WITH so many atrocities occurring across the world, why does Palestine draw thousands of protesters to our city streets week after week?

Last October, we saw Rishi Sunak fly to Israel to be at the side of Benjamin Netanyahu, declaring, “We want you to win”, while the public was gripped by the plight of First Minister Humza Yousaf’s in-laws trying to escape the bombs raining down on Gaza.

Sunak made no mention of Israel’s illegal occupation, spiralling land grabs, appalling human rights record or apartheid laws. Instead, the UK’s Prime Minister stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel and promised continued and unequivocal support for the longest occupation in modern history.

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Almost six months on, as Gaza is reduced to rubble and Palestinians continue to die from heavy bombardments and starvation, critics of the Palestinian demonstrations continue to ask why protesters are not outraged by the horrors in the Congo or South Sudan, for example.

The answer is that we are. But we are also stunned by the hypocrisy of the UK Government and its complicity in the crisis in Gaza.

Israel has not been held to account by our government in the same way other governments have. Within weeks of Russia invading Ukraine, the UK, US and EU imposed sanctions. They expressed their shock at the audacity of one country invading another. They joined forces to ensure Russia felt their wrath and was confined to the realms of a pariah state. It was kicked out of world sports tournaments, its products disappeared from our supermarket shelves, and it no longer had the right to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.

On the other hand, despite the brutal Israeli rule of the Palestinians being well documented by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Israel’s B’Tselem, Israel continues to benefit from the unconditional backing of our leaders.

The UK Government works hard to further normalise the occupying nation by pushing for measures such as anti-boycott laws which render it illegal for UK public bodies to boycott Israeli products, thus giving Israel a unique status.

And in stark contrast to the situation with Russia, the UK continues to provide unimpeded financial and political support to Israel even while the International Court of Justice has stated that it may once again be falling foul of international law – and this time plausibly committing a genocide.

The UK has supported Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land and its control over every aspect of the lives of occupied Palestinians for generations. The UK not only turns a blind eye when Israel bombs schools, hospitals, mosques, and churches, it supports these actions through the sale of weapons, in its diplomacy and in its refutation of global condemnation.

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With social media, people can see the wholesale destruction brought about by modern weaponry and the role our government plays in the supply of weapons and protection to the occupier as it annihilates the occupied.

We all know of the horrors of the Holocaust and of the Rwanda genocide but, for the first time, we are witnessing a livestreamed genocide. People across the world are seeing precious lives bombed, starve, and displaced in huge numbers – daily. There’s no hiding from it and we share the despair and hopelessness as our government looks the other way.

As the genocide continues in a closed-off land where foreign journalists are barred by Israel, brave Palestinians risk their lives to be the eyes and the ears of the world. Like the more than 80 journalists killed by Israel in the last five months, they and their families, too, become targets of the occupation.

During another raid on Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza last week, Al Jazeera reported that its Arabic correspondent, Ismail al-Ghoul – clearly identified as press – was beaten and stripped before being dragged into a truck by Israeli soldiers.

Its forces also arrested more than 80 other Palestinians, including medical staff and journalists.

Still, day after day, we are shown grey concrete powder-coated children being dug out of the rubble, some alive and some pulled out like rag dolls, dead. Many of them were buried alive, condemned to a slow terrifying death with no hope of help from the international community. If it wasn’t for these courageous Palestinians, the public would have remained naive to the actions of a Western-backed Israel, which enjoys the full support of the UK Government.

So, when we reach into the cupboard to retrieve our Palestinian flag for a demo, we are reminded of our Government’s allegiances with reports of the “flour massacre” where hundreds of starving Palestinians were shot, maimed, and killed by Israeli forces while waiting for food aid to arrive.

We are reminded of doctors and journalists braving Israeli snipers only to be rounded up, stripped, humiliated, beaten and killed.

For the United Nations and in international law, the crime of apartheid is second only to genocide. Israel stands accused of occupation, annexation, apartheid and now genocide. People are joining the pro-Palestine movement – one of the biggest movements in history – because they are appalled and ashamed that for more than 70 years the UK has been complicit in the suffering inflicted on Palestinians, and because it is now enabling a genocide against them.

People do not want to live in a country where their taxes support genocide, where public opinion is trounced, where peaceful protesters are branded hate-mongers by the people who are elected to represent them.

This is why we march.

And until there is justice and until Palestine is free: “In our millions, in our billions, we are all Palestinians.”

Gerry Coutts is part of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign