The conflict began almost one month ago Chris Malley

Content note: This article contains discussion of racism and violent attacks, and brief mention of air strikes

Over 150 Cambridge residents gathered outside the Senate House on King’s Parade earlier today (15/05), in the second protest responding to the conflict in Palestine this week.

Today’s protest, marking #Nakba73, the 73rd anniversary of the 1948 Palestinian Exodus, is given an additional layer of significance due to the ongoing events in Gaza.

Attendees, one of whom told Varsity represented several different age groups, were carrying flags and chanting phrases such as “Free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

In a social media post by Cambridge University Palestine Society (PalSoc), the purpose of the demonstrations were described: “Today, Saturday May 15th, thousands are demonstrating across Britain in solidarity with the Palestinian people against the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, attacks upon Palestinians by racist mobs across Israel, state repression of Palestinian protest, and the monstrous, criminal bombardment of Gaza.”

The post continued: “The Nakba began in 1948, but continues to this day. 73 years on and Israel is still violently displacing Palestinians of the only land they have been left with, demolishing their homes and replacing them with Jewish-Israeli settlements, as is happening currently in Sheikh Jarrah.”

Today marks almost a month since the recent clashes in East Jerusalem began on April 13th between Palestinians and Israeli police over the placing of barriers outside the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, which prevented residents from gathering for prayer on the first night of Ramadan.

Since then, clashes have taken place in Jerusalem between Israel and Palestinian groups in the city, which both groups consider to be their capital. Since May 10th, airstrikes have been carried out from Gaza to Israel, and from the Israeli Air Force against Gaza. This has led to the deaths of dozens of civilians, including women and children.

The Cambridge BME Campaign also released a statement of solidarity earlier today: “The BME Campaign stands with the people of Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza, and elsewhere in Occupied Palestine.”

It continued: “We condemn the horrific airstrikes in Gaza which have killed at least 119 civilians, forced expulsions of families in Sheikh Jarrah, and brutal attack by Israeli police on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The statement also encouraged those affected by the events to reach out to the Campaign’s representatives for support.

The tensions are also linked to the threat of eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah district. A protest earlier this week (11/05), attended by approximately 30 people, also called for the UK government to denounce these threats.

Tuesday’s rally was organised by Cambridge Stop the War Coalition, a group that describes itself as “a broad-based coalition of Anti-war activists, Unions, faith groups, political parties and individuals in and around Cambridge”.

An Israeli Supreme Court ruling was expected on Monday (10/05) on whether dozens of residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, which is predominantly Palestinian, would be evicted.

The case ruling was delayed, but violent clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli police forces near the Al-Asqa Mosque in the days leading up to the expected ruling have escalated.

In a social media post, Cambridge Stop the War Coalition said: “The UK government must take immediate action and stop allowing Israel to act with impunity. It must demand an end to current proceedings to evict these families, and start holding Israel accountable for all its actions, which contribute to the crime of apartheid.”