Protesters target Israeli orchestra

A Proms performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was taken off air after it was repeatedly interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters, the BBC said.

The orchestra was due to perform at the Albert Hall in London last night as part of the prestigious Proms, despite calls for a boycott of its performance.

Pro-Palestinian group The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had called for the BBC to cancel the concert, claiming the orchestra showed "complicity in whitewashing Israel's persistent violations of international law and human rights".

It urged people to boycott the event in a protest against it and planned a protest outside.

A BBC spokeswoman said they were expecting protests from supporters and opposition outside the Albert Hall and had put extra security in place, including bag searches.

But as the orchestra started to play one of four of its pieces, small groups of protesters interrupted, forcing a live broadcast on Radio 3 to be taken off air.

The spokeswoman said about a minute into the first piece a small group of protesters in the choir stall stood up and started singing their own words put to the tune of Ode To Joy.

They were also holding dishcloths with spelled out "Palestine".

The concert continued, but was taken off-air, and the group were removed, the spokeswoman said.

There were three more protests throughout the concert, forcing it to be taken off air completely, she said. In total, around 30 people were removed from the hall.

In a statement, the BBC said: "We regret that as a result of sustained audience disruption within the concert hall which affected the ability to hear the music, tonight's Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Prom was taken off air.

"The invitation to the orchestra was a purely musical one, offering the opportunity to hear this fine Orchestra in conductor Zubin Mehta's 75th year, so we are disappointed that BBC Radio 3 audiences were not able to enjoy the full performance.

"BBC Radio 3 broadcast recordings of the same music, however the performance continued in the hall.

"We will broadcast part of the concert next Wednesday, September 7, at 2.30pm.

"Throughout the concert approximately 30 people were removed by security which had been increased in anticipation of the possibility of disturbances."