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UK cities hold protests over Gaza attacks

Campaigners throughout Britain organised emergency protests today over the worsening situation in the Gaza Strip.

As Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian enclave continued for a third day, members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign were preparing to gather in towns and cities including London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Halifax and Sheffield.

Around 30 people in York held a silent vigil this afternoon to raise awareness over what they termed the "dreadful massacre" of a suffering Palestinian population.

They encouraged passers-by to write to MPs and MEPs, and to call for human rights demands to be built into negotiations on an EU-Israel trade agreement currently being worked out.

One of the organisers of the vigil, Monica Wusteman, said the attacks were part of a deliberate move to win votes in the forthcoming Israeli elections.

"There are 300 Palestinians dead and the count is still soaring, and the Israelis have declared that they have no intention of stopping at the moment," she said.

"This is a piece of Israeli electioneering - Palestinian rockets have been fired for years now.

"We knew this was going to happen, it has been scheduled to happen for some weeks now, because whoever can kill the most Palestinians is going to win the Israeli vote."

She said the people of York were generally supportive of the Palestinian cause, and campaigners in the city were hoping to hold a larger-scale protest next week.

Organisers of a protest in Sheffield city centre this afternoon were hopeful up to 200 people would join them in their bid to remember civilians killed in the attacks.

Musheir El-Farra, who moved from Palestine to Britain 20 years ago, said he hoped the British protests would help to humanise the Palestinian victims of the conflict.

"The Israelis are not attacking military targets, as they claim," he said.

"They are attacking civilians, in schools, in mosques, in hospitals and universities.

"To many people, the Palestinian deaths are nothing but numbers, but they are not numbers, they are human beings, and we hope to show their lives were very special to us."

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