Hundreds of people turned out in force at a peace rally in Blackburn on Sunday.

Crowds from across the town and borough chanted, waved flags and displayed placards in protest, calling for an end to the Israel-Hamas conflict that has killed thousands in the past week.

The event was organised by local volunteers and speakers included people from across Lancashire.

There are growing calls for Israel to stop its bombardment of the Gaza strip, which has been in response to attacks by Hamas militants which killed hundreds of civilians in Israel. 

The United Nations, senior EU figures and aid agencies have all expressed alarm as many Palestinians struggle to flee ahead of a “co-ordinated” offensive in the Gaza Strip involving air, ground and naval forces.

Naseem Khan, who hosts UCTV, invited a number of speakers on stage throughout the afternoon.

Organisers said: “This was a peace rally and an opportunity for the people of Blackburn to show their support for the people of Palestine. We call for all killings on all sides to stop.

“Thank you to the volunteers and everyone who helped to organise and for everyone who turned out in such huge numbers.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Lancashire Telegraph:

Speakers were keen to stress they were against killings and murders on all sides and called for a cease to hostilities.

George MacSween was among those who spoke about how western countries appear to have ‘forgotten’ of any violence before last week.

He said: “What Britain did was to give a country that was not ours to a people who did not live there over the heads of the people who did live there – the Palestinians

“Since 1948 a million Palestinians were forced out of their homes. Since then Palestine has been occupied by Israel and our leaders have done nothing about it.

“Whilst the wall has been built. Whilst the check point has been built, the tanks, the soldiers the settlers all this has been happening for decades.”

The demonstration ended with prayers of all victims of violence including Israeli civilians.

In a final message, speakers asked everyone to show respect to people of all backgrounds and cultures as they left the protest and to also to ensure they left the area clean and tidy.

More than a million people have fled their homes in the besieged Gaza Strip in the past week, ahead of an expected Israeli invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas’ leadership after its deadly attack.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Lancashire Telegraph:

The enclave’s food and water supplies are dwindling, with its hospitals warning that they are on the verge of collapse.

Israeli forces, supported by a growing deployment of US warships in the region and the call-up of some 360,000 reservists, have positioned themselves along Gaza’s border and prepared for what Israel said would be a broad campaign to dismantle the militant group.

Israel said it has already struck dozens of military targets, including command centres and rocket launchers, and killed Hamas commanders.

The Gaza health ministry said 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 wounded since the fighting erupted, more than in the 2014 Gaza war, which lasted more than six weeks.

That makes this the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for both sides.

More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, the vast majority civilians, since Hamas’ October 7 assault.