Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Saturday, 10 January 2009

Rally demands end of Gaza strife

Rally at Belfast City Hall
Thousands of people attended the rally

A demonstration has taken place in Belfast, calling for an end to the conflict in Gaza.

About 2,000 people heard speeches from members of the four main churches, trades union representatives and politicians.

Peter Bunting of ICTU, which organised the rally, said the crisis in the region was a human one.

He said that the Israeli defence forces and Hamas must stop violent acts and start talking.

Report from the rally
Rally in Belfast

"Talks and not bombs are the only way forward to achieve a two state solution, independent of each other, peacefully co-existing and governed by those elected in a democratic process whether or not we in the west or anywhere else agree or disagree," he said.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, one of the Peace People, also addressed the crowd and condemned the actions of the Israeli government.

"This is the collective punishment of of 1.5m people," she said.

Israeli forces entered Gaza two weeks ago and the United Nations has been calling for a ceasefire.

Israel has said it is trying to protect Israeli civilians from rockets fired from inside the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other militant groups.

Health officials in Gaza say more than 800 Palestinians have died. Israel says 13 Israelis have been killed.

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