Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Israel" bombs a 6th mosque, killing 12 and wounding 30;

Marchers demand boycott of Israel, and throw shoes.

In Edinburgh, sign says: "Stop the Massacres! Boycott Israel!"
"BBC: Some 600 people, young and old, marched through Edinburgh."

Click on photo to enlarge it.

BBC: "The continuing violence has prompted anti-Israeli protests around the world.
In central London demonstrators threw shoes at the British prime minister's residence..."

BBC: "Hundreds of shoes thrown by demonstrators littered Whitehall."


"Thousands march over Gaza strikes"

January 3, 2009

BBC News, on the Web, with video, at:

Video: "Protesters march through central London"

Thousands of people are taking part in demonstrations across the UK against the Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Up to 12,000 demonstrators took to the streets in London, hurling shoes at the gates of Downing Street in protest.

In Manchester, 2,000 people marched and there were hundreds more in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Portsmouth and elsewhere.

Israel's government has said it is defending its citizens from Palestinian rocket attacks, but Gordon Brown has called for an urgent ceasefire.

A Number 10 spokesman said the prime minister had spoken to his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Olmert, on Saturday to press for an end to the violence.

"Rocket attacks from Hamas must stop, and we have called for a halt to Israeli military action in Gaza," the spokesman said.

"Too many have died and we need space to get humanitarian supplies to those who need them. As the prime minister has made clear, moderation must prevail."

Israeli embassy

More than 30 organisations, including the British Muslim Initiative and the Stop the War Coalition, have worked together to organise the series of protests on Saturday.

In London, crowds marched along the Embankment towards Trafalgar Square, shouting "Free, free Palestine" and "Israel terrorists".

When they reached Whitehall about a thousand shoes were thrown at the gates of Downing Street, echoing the protest of an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush.

The Metropolitan Police put the total number of demonstrators in London at between 10,000 and 12,000, but organisers claimed that was a gross underestimate.

One, Ismail Patel, said: "Trafalgar Square holds 45,000 people when it is full and it is overflowing, it is more than full. We estimate there are between 60,000-75,000 people at today's rally."

Police said later that a group of protesters, believed to number about 2,000, had broken off from the main group and headed for the Israeli embassy in Kensington.

Roads were closed and barriers used to keep the crowds on Kensington High Street and away from the embassy itself.

Several protesters did hurdle the barriers and attempt to make for the entrance, but they were quickly apprehended by officers.

'War crime'

Earlier, former London mayor Ken Livingstone addressed the crowds in Trafalgar Square: "Let's send a message directly to the Israeli government: if you think you can win votes by the indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinian men, women and children, you are wrong."

Mr Livingstone told the BBC the protests sent "a powerful message" to the prime minister that the public would not tolerate Israel's "war crime".

"The silence of the British government, and most Western governments, is obscene, and I think Gordon Brown will see this and recognise the real anger amongst Londoners," he said.

Also speaking in Trafalgar Square, veteran politician Tony Benn praised those who had turned out.

"All movements begin at grassroots level, and this is one of the most powerful demonstrations I've been a part of," he said.

"What I would like to see is the prime minister and [Foreign Secretary] David Miliband do more, and be more vocal."

Mr Benn also called for a Europe-wide boycott of Israeli goods.

Among the protesters was singer Annie Lennox, who said: "I'm here today as a mother, not as a politician. I'm not pro-anybody, I'm here for human rights.

Demonstrators in Manchester
In Manchester, up to 2,000 people joined the demonstration.

"The turnout today is absolutely incredible, it shows that so many people really care about the issue. Hopefully now we will see dialogue, dialogue, dialogue."

Elsewhere, in Portsmouth, nearly 500 people took to the streets and some 300 marched in Bristol.

Police said there were about 500 demonstrators in Glasgow and 600 in Edinburgh, although organisers said there were more like 2,000 protesters in each city.

A spokeswoman said: "The event went very well and we hope that it demonstrates the feeling of people in Scotland.

"That was what today was about, it was to say the siege has to end immediately."

Civilian deaths

Comedian Alexei Sayle, who was also planning to take part in the demonstrations, told the BBC that Israel's response was "massively disproportionate" and although the two countries had a complicated history, the answer was simple.

He said: "Stop killing people, stop killing children and then start thinking about the little things after that."

But actor and comedian Paul Kaye said the situation was just as "terrifying" for Israelis under constant Hamas fire.

Actor Paul Kaye: Fear is the same on both sides of the border

"I think it's important to remember that mothers fleeing rocket attacks holding their children have the same fear on both sides of the border," he told the BBC.

Israel stepped up its offensive against Gaza on Saturday, using tanks and artillery to bombard the territory.

In one raid, at least 10 people were killed when a missile hit a mosque in Beit Lahiya, Palestinian sources said.

The UN says that since the start of the violence a week ago more than 400 people have been killed, about 25% of them civilians - including at least 34 children.

Four Israelis - three civilians and one soldier - have been killed by rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.

Both sides have so far resisted international calls for a ceasefire.


"13 reported killed in airstrike on Gaza mosque"

CNN, January 3, 2009, at:

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli airstrike hit a mosque in the northern Gaza village of Beit Lahiya on Saturday evening, killing 13 people and wounding 60...


[Note: "The Observer", of London, reported 12 killed and 30 wounded, at: ]