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Hundreds protest in Chatham in solidarity with Palestine urging for cease-fire and immediate delivery of humanitarian aid

Hundreds of protesters converged on a town centre in support of the people of Palestine.

The peaceful demonstration in Chatham was organised by Medway Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Hundreds converge on Chatham to demonstrate solidarity for Palestine
Hundreds converge on Chatham to demonstrate solidarity for Palestine

Banner-waving marchers gathered in Military Road to hear speeches from group chairman Steve Wilkins and from religious leaders across the county.

The national activist organisation is calling for a cease-fire, an end to the violence and for full humanitarian aid to be sent into Gaza immediately.

Mr Wilkins said: “At no point are we blaming Jews in this country. We are fighting against the hypocrisy of Western governments’ support of Israel.

“When Russia took over parts of Ukraine, it was considered a war crime.

“Yet when Israel invaded the Gaza Strip, it’s not.”

Dr Dalia Halpern-Matthews at Chatham Memorial Synagogue
Dr Dalia Halpern-Matthews at Chatham Memorial Synagogue

Mr Wilkins said up to 300 people turned up at short notice to vent their feelings yesterday (Sunday).

He added that another demonstration was planned when Israel launches its ground invasion.

Meanwhile, Dalia Halpern-Matthews – a leading figure in Medway’s tight-knit Jewish community – said she was overwhelmed with support from well-wishers.

She said a police presence was stepped up to protect Chatham Memorial Synagogue in the High Street to tie in with the protest.

The building already has security measures in place in the wake of a series of vandalism attacks earlier this year.

Dr Halpern-Matthews said: “We have a security guard on the door at times of services being held.”

She added: “We have had numerous messages of support from members of the public and from other religious groups in Medway saying they are sticking by our Jewish community.

Chatham Memorial Synagogue - target for vandals
Chatham Memorial Synagogue - target for vandals

“It has been completely unexpected.

“We even had a bunch of red carnations left on the doorstep.”

A statement from the synagogue said: “We were horrified by the scenes of atrocities by Hamas in the south of Israel.

“Many in our community have family and friends who were caught up in the attack and we are, as a community, in a deep state of shock.

“The Jewish community, alongside our friends and colleagues at Medway Intra [a community arts group in the area around the synagogue] believes in the power of dialogue, ethnicities and nationalities to create lasting peace and harmony.”

It added: “We understand that passions are high on all sides. But there is no place for hate in Medway or elsewhere towards any individual or community.”

The police commissioner for Kent has already promised protection to the county's Jewish community in the wake of a rise in anti-semitism following recent conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said earlier this month that all available powers must be employed by police to counter anyone "praising or glorifying" acts of terror.

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