Emergency Palestine protest held outside Nottingham Council House

Palestinian flag waved amongst many people standing facing Nottingham Council House at Old Market Square as speakers talk
Placards and flags were held high as speakers took to a megaphone one by one -Credit:Nottingham Post

Dozens of protestors gathered outside Nottingham Council House for an emergency protest against Israel’s bombing of Rafah in Palestine. In total, around 60 people carrying banners, home-made placards and flags gathered around a central speaker, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, May 7.

It was arranged at late notice after Israel started its offensive into Gaza's southernmost city on May 6. A poster for the protest said: "Hands off Rafah. End to genocide. Emergency rally. Tuesday 7 May. Brian Clough Statue. Nottingham."

The rally started a few minutes late as the organiser, a man in a red hat, addressed the increasing numbers to say that he was waiting for speakers to arrive. Then, one by one, a number of people took their turn speaking over a megaphone at the front of the crowd. One was a young woman called Leila.

"I stand here today filled with heartbreak, rage and faith in my people," she started. "My friends have been arrested, released and re-arrested simply for being students. Recently I discovered one of my friends is still alive. And the feeling I have is both of happiness and dread. I fear that one of these days I might lose him."

"Take action now to liberate us all," she urged the crowd. "If Palestinians don't get their freedom now there will be no more Palestine to fight for. Be strong. Do not let yourself lose faith or focus or let people scare you away.

Palestine protestors speaking on megaphone outside Nottingham Council House, with Palestine flag visible on right
Leila addresses the crowd -Credit:Nottingham Post

"We need to be taking action so we can see tangible change. I'm not going to be chanting Free Palestine with no end goal any more. We want liberation, we want justice and we want land back."

Her impassioned cries were met with a large round of applause. As she finished her speech, she chanted Free Palestine and the crowd responded, chanting back en masse.

Others also spoke. Some passers-by turned their heads as they walked past, while others took photos and a number stopped to listen intently.

At one point an intruder, who carried a Cash Generator carrier bag, interrupted. She was met with hostile shouts from the crowd and ushered away.

Then another man spoke, saying: "This war has caused a Jewish conflict in the Arab world, it's caused a conflict in the whole Muslim world, and anyone who stand for justice, peace and fairness can see that this is something is completely wrong.

"My heart bleeds to see the western World saying absolutely nothing to condemn this or if they are, its just mere words - no sanctions. In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians. Long live the Palestinian people."

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “deeply concerned” about the potential humanitarian cost of an offensive around Rafah, which has become a refuge for Palestinians forced out of other areas in the war-ravaged territory. Mr Sunak urged Israel and Hamas to “continue talking, negotiating, getting around the table”.

The UK has urged both sides in the Israel-Hamas conflict to focus on negotiations to end the bloodshed. The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the Israeli authorities had denied it access to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, an important route for aid to reach the territory.