400 Palestinian activists came out in Cardiff today, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. The protest was organised by the Palestinian Solidarity campaign. The thing that struck me about this protest was the number of young Muslim women and men in attendance and it was great to see. Israel has laid siege on Gaza, killing over 120 Palestinian people in its 5 day bombardment, including 2 people from a charity for disabled people in Beit Lahiya. As bombs are pouring down from the Palestinian skies, injured children lay in school corridors awaiting desperately needed medical attention. Gaza is an open air prison, so the Palestinians have no control over their land and sea borders. All imports in to Gaza have to be approved by Israel or Egypt and the Egyptian authorities recently denied medical supplies to enter Gaza via the Rafah border.
I caught up with a Palestinian woman and activist from Cardiff, Ola Ashi, 22, who is a member of Dar Ul-Israa community centre based in the city. Ola told me that she is a Palestinian woman from Gaza, who is a protester and campaigner because she is from Palestine and campaigning against injustice is part of her identity. The Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS) have been putting on campaigns for the last few years across the UK. At Cardiff University, where Ola graduated last year in Psychology, she was active on campus, drawing attention to injustice around the world with FOSIS, putting on projects such as Justice week and was involved in screening the film Palestine 101 for a movie night. Ola helped to organise the Palestinian conference in Nottingham, with speakers including Norman Finkelstein and PSC campaigners. Ola was also active on the Egypt and Libya solidarity protests.
Ola is involved in a medical association (medics and psychologists) who go to Gaza and help in hospitals. Over the next 48 hours Israel are going to decide whether to send up to 40 thousand ground troops in to Gaza. While the Palestinian people await their fate, we must come together in solidarity and protest at the Israeli embassy, outside the Israeli consulates offices, and at the BBC because of their bias coverage, along with the thousands of people who are taking to the streets across the country.
Ola was a great inspiration to us today. After a mainly male dominated start on the megaphone, we were in much need of women’s voices, so a fantastic Palestinian woman took to the platform and talked about her family in Gaza, who asked whether we even know they are being killed and asking for her to tell us, and in turn we must take action and tell our friends and colleagues. Ola then led the protest through the busy streets of Cardiff, shouting ‘free free Palestine’ to passersby stopping to take photos and some to show their solidarity.