Hundreds of people gathered in Birmingham to voice their protests over the invasion of Gaza as they called on the local city council to boycott all Israeli goods.
The call, which is to be backed up by a mass petition, was made during a public meeting attended by around a thousand people on Monday night at the Council House in Victoria Square.
The emergency meeting, which followed a short march from Waterstones, in High Street, was organised by the Stop the War Coalition in response to Israel’s escalation of the recent week-long bombing of Gaza which has killed more than 500 Palestinians.
A cross-party selection of speakers saw Coun Salma Yaqoob from Respect, Coun Ayoub Khan (Liberal Democrats), Coun Tahir Ali (Labour) and Coun Alan Rudge (Conservative), who is Cabinet member for equalities and human resources, share the same platform.
Other speakers included Kamel Hawwash, of West Midlands Palestinian Community Association, and John Rose, a Jew, who is author of The Myths of Zionism.
Around 30 West Midlands Police officers accompanied the march and remained on duty at the Council House as hundreds of people crammed into the Council Chamber, public gallery and two committee rooms inside, with hundreds more having to be addressed outside.
Coun Yaqoob said: “This is a brilliant turnout and shows how important this issue is to the people of Birmingham.”
“We are calling for an embargo by the city council on all Israeli goods until Israel complies with UN resolutions not to occupy Gaza or the West Bank. We do not want just words of condemnation but action by the city council.
“Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK and the largest authority in Europe and I want to make sure all our councillors sign up to this very important, symbolic boycott. This is a cross-party, cross-faith issue. It is not about Muslims against Jews or Christians.”
Coun Yaqoob said: “Our taxpayers’ money is being used to buy parts of those F16 bombers that are making sorties every 20 minutes in Gaza.
“We have seen 500 Palestinians killed just this week but our brothers and sisters there are not abandoned.”
The protest petition is to circulate this week before being presented to the full meeting of Birmingham City Council next Tuesday when a lobby of councillors is also planned.
Coun Rudge said Birmingham has been fortunate in that people in the city have always worked together. ‘‘We cannot tolerate this non-stop battling going on and I hope this meeting is a step towards getting that message across to everyone in government,” he said.