by David Broder
On 29th December, as Israeli bombs rained down on the people of Gaza, over 1500 – mostly young – people demonstrated outside the Israeli Embassy in London in the second of a series of daily protests. After the Embassy protest there was a march down Kensington High Street and a number of police attacks on the crowd: seven people were arrested. Below are a series of photos and comments on the day. We distributed leaflets reporting on the state of Israeli opposition movements and the plight of young people jailed for refusing to serve in the army, as well as expressing our condemnation of the attacks and refusal to support Hamas.
The demo began at 4pm with a standing picket outside the Israeli Embassy, which is protected by police and gates and is several dozen yards away from the road.
The British Muslim Initiative’s placards were particularly prominent on the demo: the British far left did not make as much of an impression as is usual on anti-war events.
The mass of people blocked all traffic for several hours. There was a mix of specifically pro-Palestinian slogans (mostly “Free, Free Palestine”, “Occupation, no more” and “Israel, Terrorist”) and Islamic chants such as “God is great”. A few sticks, bottles and cans were thrown at the police, as well as two traffic cones filled with burning paper. A policeman’s hat was set on fire too (after it was removed from his head…)
The only speech was by the Respect MP George Galloway. Typically, he called on the police to go into the Israeli Embassy and arrest the people there… On Sunday’s demo Tony Benn had also spoken.
There were only a handful of people selling Socialist Worker, and perhaps surprisingly, the only SWP grandees present were the (currently marginalised) John Rees and Lindsey German.
After the demo at the Embassy started dissipating and dozens of police as well as police on horseback drove the rest of us away, a couple of hundred of us marched down Kensington High Street.
However, the police then succeeded in penning around sixty of us in at a road junction. One person threw a firework at the cops.
We stood on the pavement for around an hour, surrounded by dozens of police. Around 200 police had been mobilised in total. We were stop and searched one-by-one and most of us were then released.