report by Taimour Lay
Demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington on Wednesday night ended in baton charges on pro-Palestinian protesters and at least ten arrests. A counter-demonstration organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council and UK Zionist Federation attracted 300-400 people, but the arrests were ultimately sparked by police tactics at the end of the evening rather than the conduct of the opposing sides during the protest.
The police chose not to force pro-Palestinian demonstrators – who had been gathering since 5pm for the daily demonstration – away from their pen as the Zionists arrived shortly after 7pm, instead setting up a second pen opposite the embassy nearer Gloucester Road, with three police vans and 40-50 officers to keep the two sides apart in contained areas.
But as the night wore on riot police were used to end the anti-war demonstration by force. One policeman said a strategic decision had been made to ”clear the area”, including Kensington High Street and surrounding roads, to prevent ”Israeli and Palestinians from kicking each other”. In reality, it meant that the peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who still numbered around 200 by 9pm, and who remained determined not to depart before the close of the opposition demonstration, were pushed, harried and chased out of the pen.