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Nine police officers hurt in clashes at Israel Embassy after Free Palestine protest
16 May 2021, 07:47
Nine police officers were injured in clashes that broke out after thousands of people marched peacefully through central London in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Police said the officers were hurt when missiles were thrown when they tried to clear crowds from outside the Israeli Embassy in Kensington.
Scotland Yard said there had been "small pockets of disorder following a day of peaceful protest."
During the day, demonstrators chanted "free, free Palestine," and held banners calling for an end to the bombing of the territory by Israeli forces.
Organisers say "immediate action" is needed by the UK Government to help end the "brutal" violence against the Palestinian people.
Superintendent Jo Edwards, in charge of the policing operation, said: “We once again saw police come under fire from missiles and several were injured as a result of this.
"It is totally unacceptable and I wish those officers a speedy recovery.
“Throughout the day, officers sought to engage with people who had gathered to demonstrate, and encourage them to disperse to help protect themselves and others during this public health crisis. Where this approach did not work and officers were met with hostility, they took enforcement action.”
nine people were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder in London and four people were arrested on suspicion of breaching coronavirus laws, police said.
At midday on Saturday, demonstrators arrived at Hyde Park near Marble Arch to march to the Israeli embassy, holding banners and chanting.
It comes as thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee from their homes after a week of sustained conflict.
Since Monday night, Palestinian militant group Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, whose military responded by barraging the Gaza Strip with tank fire and air strikes.
At least 126 people have been killed in Gaza, including 31 children and 20 women. In Israel seven people have been killed, including a six-year-old boy and a soldier.
The demonstration in London was organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Stop The War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain.
A spokesperson for the organisers said: "It is vital that the UK Government takes immediate action.
"It must stop allowing Israel's brutal violence against and oppression of the Palestinian people to go unpunished.
"The bombardment of Gaza which is killing civilians including children is a war crime.
"The UK Government is complicit in these acts as long as it continues to offer Israel military, diplomatic and financial support."
Organisers said crowds stretched back to Bayswater Road from Kensington High Street and numbered 100,000.
The Israeli embassy issued the following statement yesterday: "Hamas is a radical terrorist organisation that fires rockets indiscriminately on civilian populations.
"Their charter calls for the establishment an Islamic state instead of Israel. It is regrettable to see citizens of a democratic country giving legitimacy to such an organisation and its violent actions.
"Unfortunately, over the last week we have seen incitement to violence and antisemitic signs and slogans chanted in demonstrations, this has forced the Israeli Embassy, in the heart or London, to need to be barricaded by the police for protection."