Thousands of activists and concerned citizens gathered on Friday in front of the Israeli embassy in London to protest against Israel’s continued military assault on Gaza. The turnout was so massive that police tried to prevent people from accessing the protest, but their efforts were unsuccessful and protesters surged through the police barriers to completely block off one of the busiest commercial streets in Central London.
The protest was organised by a coalition of groups, and was the second mass mobilisation in London in less than a week demanding an end to Israel’s on-going crimes in Palestine.
As more and more protesters joined the demonstration, they started to completely fill up the commercial street. Police responded by trying to close off the entrances, claiming that they were maintaining “crowd control” for the benefit of the protesters, who arrived in numbers that vastly exceeded the organisers’ expectations. Police told protesters trying to reach the demonstration that nobody could enter for “health and safety” reasons.
“We want people to leave,” one officer told the waiting protesters, who continued chanting “free, free Palestine” regardless.
Eventually, the protestors inside and outside the police barricade were so determined to stand together united that they were able to overwhelm the police, breaking the barrier.
About 10,000 people took part in the peaceful demonstration, completely blocking off traffic in the busy commercial street. They even commandeered a double decker bus, with the crowd cheering loudly when a rabbi joined the protesters who were standing on top.
The rabbi held up a banner that read: “Judaism rejects the Zionist state and condemns its criminal siege and occupation.”
The protest in London is part a wave of mass mobilisations around the world over the past week demanding an end to Israel’s brutal assault on the Gaza Strip. The Popular Committees of Palestine had issued a call for an international day of rage on Friday.
Palestinians have now extended this call to people around the world to continue mobilising for Palestine every day until Israel’s aggression finally stops.
Israel has been pounding the besieged Gaza Strip for five straight days with an intensive military assault by air and sea, killing 121 Palestinians, including many women and children, and wounding 920, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
There have been no reported deaths on the Israeli side.
UN officials have warned that Israel may be violating international law by deliberately targeting Palestinian homes. On Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said: “We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes.”
“Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” she said.