A large crowd of people came to Bolton town centre today, Saturday, for a rally in support of Palestine.

The gathering began at Queens Park where a broad range of age groups, many of them in family groups, came together from 2pm.

The event had been prompted by the recent conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, which has seen civilian death tolls soar.

One attendee said: "This isn't about taking sides, this is a humanitarian issue."

"When we saw the events, we knew there would be people in need who needed our support."

Another attendee, who gave his name as Rehan, said the way governments in the West had responded to the unfolding crisis was deeply disappointing.

He said: "We're outraged about the response from Rishi and the western leaders ignoring the past 70 years of apartheid.”

He added: "What we want to see if for the western leaders to acknowledge the last 70 years of apartheid and to see a free state of Palestine."

Asian Image: The event began at Queens Park on Saturday afternoonThe event began at Queens Park on Saturday afternoon (Image: Henry Lisowski)

On a day that was by turn sunny and windswept, the marchers made their way up Spa Road with Palestinian flags, chanting slogans and songs in support of the embattled region.

They then gathered at Victoria Square for a series of speeches from the town hall steps, where organisers estimated that more than 2,000 people attended.

Asian Image: Crowds gathered at Victoria Square after making their way from Queens ParkCrowds gathered at Victoria Square after making their way from Queens Park (Image: Henry Lisowski)

Martin McMulkin, a former Bolton councillor who later addressed the crowd, said: “It really matters because unfortunately many of our world leaders are doing nothing but talking up further conflict.

"What we need is for the conflict to cease because irrespective of what has gone before we're looking at an absolute catastrophe."

Mr McMulkin was joined by Unison’s Andrea Egan in addressing the crowds, who quoted from a recent article by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and called on people in Bolton to support a peaceful solution.

She said: “As a Bolton community, we must call by all means for an immediate ceasefire.

“That means the immediate release of Israeli hostages.

“That means ending the siege of Gaza and that means recognising the underlying roots of this tragic cycle of violence, the enduring occupation of the Palestinian people.”

Asian Image: The rally heard from a range of speakersThe rally heard from a range of speakers (Image: Henry Lisowski)

She added: “The only path to a just and lasting peace is an end to the occupation.

“Until this is achieved, we will continue to mourn the tragic loss of life, Israeli and Palestinian.”

This was a theme that many of the people who attended returned to.

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Bernie Gallagher, who was in the crowd at Victoria Square, said: "I think it's really important to say the atrocities on either side can't be condoned.

"But for decades the people of Palestine have been oppressed and I think it's really important we show our solidarity."

The crowd also heard songs and poems from the town hall steps, while the square below was filled with flags and flares in Palestinian colours.

An attendee who gave her name as Romana said: "We're all in solidarity with the Palestinian people and especially all the children who haven't committed any crime.

"We want them to have an independent state and we condemn all the Israeli attacks."