Pro-Palestinian rally to go ahead in Preston despite ceasefire
A mass rally will go ahead in Preston city centre tomorrow in protest at the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, despite a ceasefire which came into force early today.
Organisers say they intend to continue with the demonstration, which will be preceded by a march through the streets.
Speakers will include former MEP Lord Wajid Khan and one-time Preston city councillor Michael Lavalette. It is hoped council leader Coun Matthew Brown will also address the rally.
"We are still working on the list of speakers, but we will have quite a few,"said one of the organisers Mukhtar Master.
"The fact that there is a ceasefire now in place does not change how people feel. It may affect numbers a little, but we still expect there to be a good turnout."
The march will begin at the Flag Market at 2:30pm and make its way towards the bus station, up Church Street, down Fishergate and Lune Street and up Friargate back to where it began.
The rally will begin at 3:15pm. Preston MP Sir Mark Hendrick is unable to attend, but has sent a statement to be read out.
A statement today from the local protest group Children of the Ghetto said: "The ceasefire, whilst being welcomed, doesn't erase the fact that countless Palestinian lives have been lost, including women and children, and that many more have been injured.
"The ceasefire makes no mention of the recent Israeli provocation and illegal activities in Sheikh Jarrah and Masjid Al Aqsa which have prompted this recent flare-up.
"It says nothing regarding the 14-year-old siege of Gaza, occupation of Palestinian lands and the right of return of Palestinians who have been dispossessed and displaced.
"Hence, in summary, the rally/march will continue absolutely as planned."
Sheikh Jarrah is a disputed neighbourhood of East Jerusalem where Palestinian families were evicted in 2009 and Jewish families moved in. Masjid Al Aqsa, also in Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Islam and has been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The ceasefire, which came into force in the early hours of today, brought to an end 11 days of fighting in which more than 250 people were killed, mainly in Gaza.
Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have both claimed victory in the conflict.