800 Londoners protest in front of Israeli Embassy against ‘criminal Israel’ in Gaza. Other smaller protests held in other parts of UK, as well as in Cairo, Damascus
By Rona Zinman
LONDON – Some 800 hundred people protested Thursday in front of the Israeli embassy in London against Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, shouting anti-Israeli slogans. The protesters waved signs reading “Free Palestine,”, “End the siege” and “Criminal Israel.” Additional protests were held in Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Pro-Israel protests organized by Jewish organizations were held nearby.
Cecile, a Dublin resident, explained to Ynet that she is protesting because Palestine is very small and cramped in comparison to Israel and the US. She expressed her bewilderment at how Israel can fire at a people who, according to her, are barely surviving.
Judy, a Jewish woman from Belfast, said that during a visit to Israel she was exposed to what she referred to as the vast differences in the living conditions of Israelis and Palestinians. She did not, however, visit Sderot, but since her return to England she has been active in a charity organization which focuses on aiding Palestinian children. After a short while the protesters were joined by a group of anti-Zionist hardeim, who were greeted with a round of applause.
Israeli Ambassador to London, Daniel Taub, was interviewed by various British news outlets on Thursday. In an interview to BBC4 radio the ambassador said that it is impossible to ask Israel to sit idly by while rockets are fired at its southern citizens.
In the interview, Taub argued that Israel had evacuated its Gaza settlements in the hope of easing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, he said, Hamas, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to promote peace, embarked on a hostile takeover of the Strip and turned it into an ongoing launching site for missiles that are fired on Israeli communities.
He added that Hamas’ aggression put more than a million of Israel’s citizens at risk and effectively destroyed their ability to lead normal lives.
Arab street reacts
In Egypt, a few protests were held a in a number of cities.
Some 50 protesters gathered in front of the Arab League Embassy in Cairo, where ministers of the Arab world convened for an emergency meeting in response to the events in Gaza. According to one of the protesters, the demonstration was held because their Palestinian brethren were being killed in Gaza.
The protester told Reuters that he felt that they must join their “brothers” in Gaza in fighting a holy war against Israel, with the direct intent of instilling fear in the heart of Israelis and supporting the Palestinians with any weapon they have at their disposal.
Some protesters interpreted the Gaza offensive as part of a larger scheme against Islam, with one protester rhetorically asking what have the children and elderly of Gaza done to deserve such an attack. He quickly answered his own question, claiming that the Zionists, Americans, the British and the EU have joined forces to destroy Islam.
An additional protest was held in Alexandria.
In Lebanon numerous Lebanese and Palestinian activists gathered in front of the UN’s Beirut headquarters in protest of the Gaza operation. They waved Lebanese and Palestinian flags while chanting anti-Israeli slogans. One of the protesters told Reuters that the Palestinian issue is a pan-Arab issue and must not be forgotten. He added that Palestine is for Arabs and for Arabs alone, hence the Arab world cannot remain silent in light of the events in Gaza.
Specifically, he mentioned the “daily murder” of Palestinian children as well as what he perceives as the Arab leaders’ silence, which is what motivated him to break his silence and demonstrate.
At the center of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, hundreds protested against the Israeli offensive. They chanted slogans of “No peace” with Israel while demanding that normalizing relations with the “Zionist entity” be considered a crime.
Activists from the ruling Islamist party an-Nahdah called for a larger protest on Friday. The government condemned the operation in Gaza, saying it expects the international community to do everything in its power to halt Israeli “aggression” in Gaza.
Some parties, including the ruling an-Nahdah party, have expressed a desire to incorporate a special article into the new Tunisian constitution that would make normalizing relations with Israel a crime.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4306409,00.html