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Thirteen arrested in London protest against violence in Gaza

The Guardian logo The Guardian 15/05/2021 Damien Gayle

Thirteen people have been arrested after a day of largely peaceful protest in solidarity with the people of Palestine outside the Israel embassy on Saturday.

The Metropolitan police said nine of its officers were injured while dispersing crowds outside the embassy in west London. The force said missiles were thrown at officers during “small pockets of disorder”.

Nine arrests were made on suspicion of violent disorder and a further four people were held on suspicion of breaching the Health Protection Regulations. They all remain in custody.

Supt 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.”

Earlier in the day, thousands of people marched through central London to express solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.

Organisers said immediate action is needed from the UK government to help end the brutal violence.

At least 139 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including 39 children, after a spiral of violence that began with the attempted eviction of Arabs from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. In Israel at least seven people have been killed, including one child.

Saturday is the Palestinian Nakba day, the anniversary of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their homes more than 70 years ago.

a group of people walking down the street: Palestinian flags near Hyde Park as people attend the protest. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian Palestinian flags near Hyde Park as people attend the protest. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Crowds marched through Hyde Park before arriving outside the gates of the Israeli embassy in Kensington.

A temporary stage was set up on Kensington High Street and organisers urged people to keep moving down the road as numbers continued to swell and dozens of police officers lined nearby streets.


Video: Thousands protest against violence in Gaza (Sky News)

Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour party leader, told crowds gathered outside the gates of the Israeli embassy that international action provides comfort and support to those suffering in the conflict.

“Think what it’s like being a mother or father and seeing a building bombed in front of you, knowing your family is in there, and you can do nothing,” he said.

“It’s our global voices that will give succour, comfort and support in those settlements alongside Gaza and all over the West Bank, East Jerusalem who are suffering at this time.

“End the occupation now. End all the settlements now and withdraw then. End the siege of Gaza now.”

The former shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, told crowds that they were part of a “worldwide movement for justice”.

“Palestinian people are having their land seized … and they are now being killed in their homes. All of this is illegal.

“Today we are saying enough, enough with the complicity. Thank you for standing with us.”

The demonstration 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 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.

Related: Thousands march in Free Palestine rallies in Sydney and Melbourne

“The bombardment of Gaza, which is killing civilians including children, is a war crime. It is occurring in the context of the illegal forced displacement of families in Jerusalem and attacks on Palestinian citizens of Israel by far-right groups including illegal settlers from the West Bank.

“The UK government is complicit in these acts as long as it continues to offer Israel military, diplomatic and financial support. Such support must end with a minimum start being an end to the two-way arms trade and trade with illegal Israeli settlements.”

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, told crowds on Saturday: “This time is different. This time we will not be denied any more. We are united. We have had enough of oppression.

“Today we are saying enough, enough with the complicity. Thank you for standing with us.”

The Met said that officers had “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”.

Organisers said crowds stretched back to Bayswater Road from Kensington High Street and numbered 100,000. Demonstrations were also taking place in Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and other UK towns and cities.

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