Cities across the world become platform for hundreds of thousands of protesters against Gaza fighting
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:07 PM on 11th January 2009
Cities across the world became the platform for protest on Israel's military action in Gaza today.
Organisers said more than 250,000 people marched through Spain's capital of Madrid, with other European cities including Athens, Brussels, Rome, Naples Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin also the focal points of protesters.
The protest in Madrid was the largest of demonstrations across Europe, although there were expressions of both support and opposition for the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Thousands of protesters take part in demonstrations in downtown Madrid on Sunday
One protester makes his feelings known at the Madrid rally on Sunday
Madrid protesters filled downtown boulevards carrying banners saying 'Peace' and 'SOS Gaza' placards above pictures of a red-stained hand and mock blood-spattered bodies of children.
Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem's mother Pilar, addressed a crowd estimated by organisers to number 250,000.
She said: 'The Spanish government has to do something. The Gaza Strip is now practically a concentration camp.'
'It is my duty to call on Israel to implement an immediate cease-fire,' Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told the protest in Ourense.
Thousands of supporters of the 'Imamia Students Organization' participate in a rally in Islamabad, Pakistan
Protesters in Jakarta take to the streets
In Brussels, children carrying effigies of dead and bloodied babies were at the head of a march through the Belgian capital as demonstrators there also demanded a halt to Israel's military campaign.
Protesters burned an Israeli flag during the demonstration.
In London's Trafalgar Square, up to 15,000 demonstrators called for an end to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and voiced support for Israeli attempts to protect the country's citizens.
'The basic, simple goal of the people of Israel is to be allowed to live in peace, without violence, without fear, and without terror,' Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor told crowds gathered in the British capital.
'We tell the terrorists, "enough is enough." They, and not us, will be defeated.'
A Philippine policeman scuffle with a student activist during a rally in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila
But in a letter published in Britain's The Observer newspaper, 11 leading British Jews said Sunday that Israel's government must end its military action to achieve security.
'We are concerned that rather than bringing security to Israel, a continued military offensive could strengthen extremists, destabilize the region and exacerbate tensions inside Israel with its 1million Arab citizens,' their letter said.
Signatories included Baroness Julia Neuberger and Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the head of Britain's Movement for Reform Judaism.
A few thousand people in Italy marched in pro-Palestinian rallies in Rome, Naples and Verona. In Rome, municipal authorities erased graffiti - including Stars of David and swastikas - that were scrawled on Jewish-owned stores and restaurants overnight.
A total of more than 3,000 people joined protests in support of Israel in the German cities of Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin.
In Athens, dozens of children, and their parents, carrying effigies and photos of bloodied children marched in the Greek capital to protest at continued Israeli operations in Gaza.
Other demonstrations were held in the Phillipines and Jakarta and other cities across the world.
Thousands turned up for protests in Trafalgar Square on Sunday
The demonstrations passed off peacefully compared to violence seen in London on Saturday.
Violent clashes occurred between police and around 20,000 protesters outside the Israeli Embassy - with an estimated 100,000 protesters airing their views around the city.
Windows were smashed and policemen were injured - with one officer knocked unconscious in the running battles and two requiring treatment for facial injuries. A Starbucks coffee shop was completely wrecked as protesters went on the rampage in Kensington.
It is hoped a further demonstration today in London's Trafalgar Square will be more peaceful as thousands of pro-Israeli demonstrators "reclaim the public space" from their political opponents.
Yesterday's protesters - mainly young men - knocked down barriers threw missiles including eggs, red paint, sticks and shoes as 300 officers in full riot gear tried to maintain the peace.
Police try and hold back the protesters outside the Israeli embassy, Kensington, as thousands show their anger at the worsening situation in Gaza
Barriers are broken down as the protest turns ugly, with at least one police officer hospitalised by the riots
Clean-up in Kensington: Demonstrations and vigils have been held all week, reaching a crescendo of 100,000 on Saturday
There were reports that some protesters had tried to set fire to police vans.
The violence, which broke out in front of the Israeli Embassy, appeared to be led by a hard-core of masked and hooded youths.
A national demonstration against Israel's attack marched from Speakers' Corner at Hyde Park today to the Israeli embassy in High Street Kensington.
It was estimated there were around 100,000 protesters in total across London, including the Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park and Kensington protests.
During today's demo, protesters waved Israeli flags and placards bearing the slogan "End Hamas Terror!" and cheered speakers who defended Israel's actions in Gaza.
A small group of counter-demonstrators gathered on one side of the Square chanting anti-Israeli slogans under the watchful eyes of police, attracting some retaliatory chanting from the pro-Israeli demonstrators.
Attacked: Protestors go for horse-backed officers in Kensington
A protester pushes down barriers as police try to maintain calm amid missile-throwing and window-smashing
Demonstrators let off fireworks outside the Israeli Embassy in London as they call for the fighting in the Gaza region to stop
Blood can be seen on the outside of Starbucks, with windows were smashed, and the inside was extensively damaged
Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews told the crowd: "The atmosphere on the streets of London has been very unpleasant in the last two days, we felt it important to reclaim the public space and make our voices heard.
"Why have we turned up in such large numbers? We are here because we believe in peace, because we believe in life, and because we want peace in life.
"We want the people of Israel to have peace, and the people of Gaza to have peace."
On Saturday there was a heavy police presence lining the route taken by the protesters.
Chanting 'free, free Palestine', the crowd was led through the streets of London by a vocal group of largely young men.
A Starbucks coffee shop in the area was stripped of chairs and had its front windows smashed, and protestors also removed fittings from the shop.
Residents living in flats above watched the scenes from their windows, and many people pleaded with police to let them out of the cordon.
At one point, the protesters were seen to throw shoes at mounted police posted in the Notting Hill area.
The march ground to a halt outside the Israeli embassy as tens of thousands of people surged past carrying placards.
At a number of points, officers asked some of the noisier and more enthusiastic protesters to 'calm down'.
There was pushing and shoving between protesters and police in riot gear outside the embassy building.
Demonstrators chanted noisily and tossed shoes over the heads of the police ranks towards the embassy.
Demonstrators inside the Starbucks branch near the Israeli embassy in London
Demonstrators and the media scramble around each other soon after fireworks were let off in a packed High Street Kensington
Burning bush: A placard bearing a portrait of U.S. President George Bush is set alight. There were reports of rioters trying to set police vans alight
A series of heavily policed demonstrations with up to 2,000 pro-Palestinian supporters have already been held outside the Israeli embassy in London.
Commander Bob Broadhurst said: 'A group of people on this demonstration have set out to deliberately confront and antagonise police officers trying to protect the Embassy of Israel.
'We are very disappointed by the irresponsible and criminal actions of those who have challenged police by ripping apart security barriers and throwing objects at them.'
Protestors burn placards in High Street Kensington
Flags are burnt as the protesters make their feelings known during the riots
He added: 'A hard core of demonstrators are undermining the cause of the vast majority of people on this demonstration, who are law abiding citizens wishing to protest peacefully.'
Of the three arrests, one man was held on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and another man was in custody on suspicion of aggravated trespass.
The spokesman said they were awaiting details of the third arrest.
Thousands of mostly young male protesters marched from Hyde Park to High Street Kensington
Hyde Park was also the center of protests, with thousands calling for an end to conflict in Gaza
In Edinburgh, protesters hurled about 300 shoes and red paint at the U.S. consulate in the Scottish capital.
At least three officers were injured after being attacked by a group of 60 protesters.
Pete Cannell, secretary of the Scottish Stop the War Coalition, said 10,000 attended the event.
'If we'd had a few more days it would've been twice the size,' he said.
'The response we got when we were handing out leaflets was overwhelming.'
A Thai Muslim steps on burning Israeli flags during a protest in Muslim province of Yala, in southern Thailand
Event organiser Nick Napier said the action was taken as a result of the 'rage and anger' over the death toll in Gaza over the past two weeks.
'People are here because they know the trail of blood leads from Gaza back to Britain and that Gordon Brown, while publicly calling for a ceasefire, we know has instructed his diplomats in New York to support the Americans,' he told Sky News.
A spokesman for the American Consulate declined to comment.
A South Korean protester shouts a slogan during a rally in Seoul, South Korea
Across the Irish Sea, a 5,000-strong crowd gathered in the centre of Belfast, in a pro-Palestinian protest event organised by the Irish Congress of Trades Unions.
Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Hartley of Sinn Fein said: 'The full-scale military assault on Gaza has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people including the slaughter of women and children.
'Our demands today are simple: The war in Gaza must end now.'
Protesters push and shove during demonstrations outside Parliament in Oslo, Norway
Elsewhere in the world, some 20,000 people took to the streets in Berlin and other German cities.
Protesters threw snowballs at two Israeli flags that hung from the windows of a house along the demonstration route, but otherwise no incidents were reported.
In Amman, Jordan, more than 2,000 took to the streets and in Syria, another 2,000 marched in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus shouting anti-Israeli slogans.
There were also demonstrations in the U.S., France, Norway, Greece, Malaysia, Sweden, Bosnia, Lebanon, Thailand, South Korea and India.
Today, a 'rally to call for peace' was held in Trafalgar Square by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
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