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Placards at the #FreePalestine protest

Protesters gather in Piccadilly Gardens amid forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah

  • Protests took place accross the UK on Sunday prompted by the removal of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah
  • Manchester protest in Piccadilly Gardens was peaceful and monitored by police 
  • Protesters called out the UK Government for their role in facilitating the crisis

Crowds gathered behind the Queen Victoria monument in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens on Sunday to protest against the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem. 

In front of the statue of motherhood Beesan Arafat, a Palestinian woman accompanied by her son, delivered an impassioned speech, saying: “We want to show solidarity with our family in Palestine, and we want to tell them you are not alone.

"What's happening now, it's not an old scar it's an open wound that needs to be healed immediately.”

Beesan Arafat and her son speak to the crowd. Photo By Victoria Thiele
Beesan Arafat and her son speak to the crowd. Photo By Victoria Thiele

She read a letter from a Jerusalem resident which said: "It is time to seek the help and attention of Europe" because of a  "disgraceful wave of normalisation" in the east. 

Her son also took to the microphone in response to the anti-Palestinian sentiment, sayng: "The old will die, but the young will forget’ before adding: “I say the old will die but the young will never forget! Free, free Palestine!”

Palestinian flags and placards were passed around the crowd during chants that said:

“Gaza, Gaza don’t you cry, Palestine will never die.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

“We are all Palestinians in our thousands and our millions.

“Israel is a terrorist state.

 “Free free Palestine."

Annie Hirsch, one of the protesters, said: “Palestinians' homes and rights are taken. It’s really concerning, but it just seems to keep going on."

Protester Annie Hirsch waving the Palestinian flag. Photo By Victoria Thiele
Protester Annie Hirsch waving the Palestinian flag. Photo By Victoria Thiele

Another speaker referenced the signing of the 1917 Balfour declaration by the UK, saying: "It's our government that started this problem, it is our government that needs to help solve it."

Placards read 'Palestine is Arab and Jerusalem is its capital' and 'We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians'. 

Many attendees also wore the black and white Palestinian Keffiyeh, a symbol of Palestinian solidarity. 

Protester Annie Hirsch waving the Palestinian flag. Photo By Victoria Thiele
Protester Annie Hirsch waving the Palestinian flag. Photo By Victoria Thiele

Tensions have been rising in East Jerusalem since mid-April, with clashes and protests surrounding the erection of security barriers at Damascus Gate, an ultra-nationalist Jewish extremist march, and assaults on orthodox Jews and Palestinians.

Most recently, Palestinians have been rallying around the cause of four Palestinian families facing eviction in Sheikh Jarrah after Israeli courts ruled the land belonged to a Jewish settler organisation in a long-running and bitter legal case, prompting the #freepalestine movement across the UK.

Police and community support officers watched over the protest from a distance. 

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