Riot police called out in London as protest ends in skirmishes

Riot police were dispatched to the Israeli embassy in London last night as a day of protests across Europe degenerated into ugly skirmishes.

In London Israeli flags were set ablaze and surging crowds were penned back by police with shields and batons. Some protesters were in tears, claiming they were being stopped from leaving peacefully, and organisers said they would complain about police heavy-handedness. Others, growing more aggressive as news of Israel's ground invasion spread, threw missiles while police tried to drive them back. Late into the evening, several hundred were still staring down officers outside the embassy.

The London ambulance service said it had helped one man with a head injury and others with minor bruises after sending a team of 25 to the scene.

Tens of thousands initially took to the streets, even as Israeli forces were firing shells from the border of Gaza. In London, where the largest rally was held, Trafalgar Square turned to a sea of black, white, red and green – Palestinian national colours – as what organisers claimed were up to 55,000 people showed up in the largest British demonstration for the Palestinian cause. Police claimed the size of the protest was far lower.

In the crowd was the singer Annie Lennox, the comedian Alexei Sayle, Tony Benn and George Galloway. Lennox told the crowd: "We are looking at a huge human rights tragedy in front of us. The idea of an air assault combined with a ground war in such a tightly packed area as Gaza is unimaginable. It will be a bloodbath. Hopefully now we will see dialogue, dialogue, dialogue."

The thrust of the protest was aimed at the British government's inaction over the Israeli attacks on Gaza, as the onslaught started its second week. One marcher, Omar Lemrini, 45, helped to carry a fake coffin covered in images of dead civilians and children. "This is the second Holocaust," he said. "It's a question of conscience now."

Some 30 organisations, including the British Muslim Initiative, the Stop the War Coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, joined forces for the protest. Hemmed in by police, the marchers resorted to the symbolic throwing of shoes into Downing Street. Hundreds of old shoes were hurled over barriers and gates to represent the Palestinian lives lost in the bombing. The gesture echoed the protest by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at President Bush last month in protest at US "war crimes".

David Carr, 45, a nurse, contorted his face in fury as he picked up his battered brown shoe and tossed it over the railings: "I helped search for the people who were injured in the London bomb blast, so I know what it means," he said. Two people broke through the police barrier to make a dash for Downing Street.

The protests were mirrored elsewhere with marches in France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Holland and Turkey. In Edinburgh and Glasgow, around 1,000 were involved in marches which police said passed peacefully. In Paris, 20,000 demonstrators descended on the city centre chanting "Israeli murder".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
music
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Support Technician - URGENT - Graduate, Windows, MS Office

£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: My client, a researcher of investment idea...

MQ Unix / Linux Systems Engineer - URGENT - Unix, Linux, MQ

£63000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A market leading provider of technology dr...

Service Desk Analyst - ITIL, Windows, Active Directory

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading brokerage is looking for a...

Trade Desk Specialist - FIX, Linux, UNIX, Windows,SQL, Graduate

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading global exchange is look...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game