In London violent clashes broke out near the Israeli embassy as tens of thousands marched in protest. Helmeted riot police with batons and shields charged a group of demonstrators who hurled sticks, shoes and traffic cones back at them while chanting “Free Palestine!”
Protesters tried to force entry to the north gate of Kensington Palace Gardens and six climbed an adjoining wall, setting fire to an American flag. The windows of a Starbucks opposite the embassy were smashed.
The police charges created waves of panic. Protester Ahmed Mohammad, 23, claimed he saw women and children get hurt: “It was a peaceful protest until the riot police came. I’ve seen a mother and little girl pushed to the ground.”
Some protesters attempted to throw barriers and other missiles at police.
The Stop the War Coalition, which organised the event, claimed that “at least” 100,000 people had made it “the biggest demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the history of this country”. The Metropolitan Police estimated the total at 12,000.
Earlier, Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park was turned into a sea of Palestinian flags and banners condemning Israel. Speakers included human rights advocate Bianca Jagger, singer Annie Lennox and the Rev Garth Hewitt, canon at St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem.
Meshaal acts to torpedo Cairo ceasefire talks. Iranian-Hizballah rescue pledge for Hamas suspected
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis
January 10, 2009, 12:03 AM (GMT+02:00)
Hamas Damascus leader Khaled
In an edgy, emotional speech over Damascus TV, Hamas’ Damascus leader Khaled Meshaal dropped a bomb on the Cairo ceasefire talks attended Saturday, Jan. 10, by the heads of Gaza’s embattled Hamas faction, just when they were on the point of unconditionally accepting a ceasefire based on Egyptian and European proposals. He declared Hamas must fight on until Israel ended its 15-day military offensive and lifted its blockade against the Gaza Strip. International monitors would be deemed “an occupation force.”
DEBKAfile reports concern in Jerusalem that Meshaal may have received pledges from Iran and Hizballah to rescue Hamas from its straits in Gaza. But by shutting the door on a ceasefire, he has forced the Israeli cabinet to opt for escalation.The Hamas leader spoke amid spreading Hamas desertions in Gaza and a senior Israeli military source’s disclosure that Hamas has lost 550 Hamas fighters.
From Debka’s front page: http://www.debka.com/index1.php
Meshaal: Resistance is all we have in Gaza
Sun, 11 Jan 2009 05:17:06 GMT
In a speech from Damascus, Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ political leader spoke on the events arising from Israel’s ongoing 15-day raid on the Gaza Strip:
The edited text of the Saturday televised address follows:
The Zionists wanted to impose a humiliating defeat on us because the only obstacle to confront them is resistance, especially in the Gaza Strip.
Perhaps the Zionists, because of the difference between the resistance in Lebanon and Gaza, thought that in comparison with Hezbollah, we were weak and they could regain the reputation of their army following its defeat in Lebanon. They tried to use the territories of Gaza to show their military might.
So this is a battle of demonstrating military strength, a fight or war to impose a defeat on our people. The Zionists thought that we were the weakest. However, the Zionists were surprised by the resistance.
Protesters have staged rallies around the world to voice their anger as the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip entered a third week.
Thousands of protesters marched on the Israeli embassy in Britain, while others took to the streets of Germany, France, Lebanon, Australia and the West Bank.
Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from London, said that the number of protesters in London was far bigger than at previous demonstrations in the UK capital.
“That is an indication of how far things have moved on in the last week, deteriorating quite rapidly in the Gaza Strip with the Israeli ground offensive,” he said.
“That has filtered through to public opinion with far more people coming out onto the streets in London and capital cities across Europe.
Protesters in Germany demand and end to the Israeli bombardment and the Gaza blockade
10/01/2009 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Egypt on Saturday to clarify whether it is a “partner” with Israel in efforts to break Hamas resistance in the Gaza Strip, a news agency reported.
Iran has condemned Israel for its attacks in Gaza and expressed support for Hamas, criticizing what Tehran says is the silence of some Arab states. Ahmadinejad said they should cut ties with Israel.
Egypt, the only Arab state to border Gaza, has been a focus for protests by Iranians and Arab masses who say Cairo has not done enough to help the Palestinians. Egypt has partly blamed Hamas for the violence because it failed to renew a truce with Israel.
“Today it has been heard in some of the West’s political meetings that the Egyptian government is a partner in crimes in Gaza and they are after breaking Hamas as part of the resistance and bring it under their own influence,” the semi-official Mehr News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
“I believe that in the current conditions, and with the crimes it is committing, the Zionist regime (Israel) is after finding a partner for its crimes,” Ahmadinejad said.
“Therefore I ask the Egyptian officials to announce their stance on the Palestinian nation, especially on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip and the Zionist regime’s crimes, as soon as possible,” Mehr quoted him as saying. Source
Sat, 10 Jan 2009 15:35:08 GMT
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, warns against Israel’s possible attack on other countries.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Israel would attack its neighbors such as Jordan and Egypt if it could justify it.
“Arrogant powers have established the Zionist regime [Israel] to dominate not only regional and Islamic countries but the entire world. They plan to set up a base in the heart of the Islamic region,” Ahmadinejad said on Saturday.
He touched upon Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over the past two weeks, saying, “The Zionist regime has been founded based on an aggressive nature.”
Ahmadinejad slammed unilateral and inhuman decisions by the UN Security Council, saying the body’s performance was in the interests of the US and Israel.
In his Saturday remark, Ahmadinejad also strongly criticized the inaction of Arab countries and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), saying, “Cut your relations with the Zionists and don’t let the regime discredit you.”
The UN Security Council almost unanimously approved late on Thursday a resolution for an “immediate” and “durable” ceasefire followed by the “full withdrawal” of Israeli forces from the sliver of Palestinian land. The resolution also demands “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment”.
Fourteen out of the council’s 15 members voted for the resolution, but Israel’s main ally, the United States, abstained from voting.
Israel has rejected UN Resolution 1860 and has escalated its air and ground strikes against the besieged territory. All the Gaza crossings are still closed.
Israel began Operation Cast Lead on Gaza on Dec. 27 and has so far killed 821 Palestinians and wounded at least 3,350 others, including women and children. At least 10 Israeli troops have so far been killed during the offensive.
|Gaza Strip conflict engendering wave of anti-Semitic violence in Europe|
|By The Associated Press|
|PARIS – Signs are mounting that the conflict in Gaza is starting to spill over into violence in Europe’s towns and cities, with assaults against Jews and arson attacks on Jewish congregations in France, Sweden and Britain.
Assailants rammed a burning car into the gates of a synagogue in Toulouse, in southwest France, on Monday night. A Jewish congregation in Helsingborg, in southern Sweden, also was attacked Monday night by someone who “broke a window and threw in something that was burning,” said police spokesman Leif Nilsson. Neighbors alerted rescue services before the fire took hold.
Someone also started a blaze outside the premises last week. And on Sunday slogans including “murderers … You broke the cease-fire” and “don’t subject Palestine to ethnic cleansing” were daubed on Israel’s embassy in Stockholm.
In Denmark, a 27-year-old Dane born in Lebanon of Palestinian parents allegedly injured two young Israelis last week, opening fire with a handgun. Police suspect his actions could be linked to the Gaza crisis.
France has Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities and a history of anti-Semitic violence flaring when tensions in the Middle East are high. In 2002, some 2,300 Jews left France for Israel because they felt unsafe.
President Nicolas Sarkozy warned in a statement yesterday that France would not tolerate violence linked to the Gaza crisis. A day earlier, his interior minister said she was concerned about the prospect of contagion and met with the heads of the two main Muslim and Jewish groups and police officials to stress the need to “preserve national unity.”
Damage to the synagogue in Toulouse was limited to a blackened gate, and there were no injuries even though a rabbi was giving a course to adults inside, authorities said. They said unlighted gasoline bombs were also found in a car nearby and in the synagogue’s yard. A local Jewish leader, Armand Partouche, said he believed the assailants had planned to torch the synagogue, but fled when the building’s alarm went off.
“It could have been very, very serious,” Partouche said in a telephone interview. “There were people inside; there could have been deaths.”
He said Jewish leaders are asking Toulouse authorities for reinforced security for the city’s synagogues.
“We really fear that anti-Semitism will spring up again and that the current conflict will be transposed to our beautiful French republic,” he said.
In Britain, the Community Security Trust, a Jewish defense group, said it had seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents since the start of Israel’s offensive against Gaza. The group said it had recorded 20-25 incidents across the country in the past week that it believed were connected with Gaza, including an arson attempt on a synagogue in north London on Sunday.
London police are investigating the attack, in which suspects splashed flammable liquid on the door and set it on fire.
Community Security Trust spokesman Mark Gardner said that in another incident last week, a gang of 15-20 youths walked along the main street in Golders Green, a largely Jewish neighborhood in north London, shouting “Jew” and “Free Palestine” at passers-by.
“It could get worse,” Gardner said. “We tend to see these things happen in waves.”
The government in Belgium yesterday ordered police in Antwerp and Brussels to be on increased alert after recent pro-Palestinian protests ended in violence and dozens of arrests. Police said burning rags were shoved through the mailbox of a Jewish home in Antwerp last weekend. Damage was limited and no arrests were made.
In the Danish shooting, one Israeli man was shot in the arm and another in the leg as they were selling hair care products in a shopping mall. Eli Ruvio, who owns the company that operated the stands, said his employees have been harassed by Muslim youths since they set up three kiosks in the shopping center in August.
“They kept cursing and shouting at us,” Ruvio told The Associated Press. “He added that the Muslim youths also threw mud and firecrackers at the employees and spat at them.”
Ruvio recalled an episode December 27 when some of the youths shouted “slaughter all the Jews.”
“I told my employees not to speak in Hebrew and lie about where they come from, they should say there were from Spain or somewhere else. If people ask you where you are from, never say you’re from Israel,” he said.