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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 July 2006, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Protests in UK at Israeli action
A demonstration in London against Israeli attacks on Lebanon
The protest in London was one of many in the UK
Thousands of people across the UK have joined demonstrations against Israeli attacks on Lebanon.

Eleven rallies were organised by groups such as Stop The War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain.

They were held in towns and cities including Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Exeter and York.

The rallies came as the last of the British evacuations from Lebanon took place, making a total of about 4,000 people leaving the country for Cyprus.

Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, said: "We need to stop this mad war."

Meanwhile, a rally to show solidarity with people in northern Israel - areas of which have been hit by Hezbollah rockets - is being held on Sunday by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Show of support

Its rally - at 1700 BST in Kenton, Middlesex - will have a live video link to northern Israel.

Organisers of the event, run under the slogan, "Yes to peace, no to terror", are planning for numbers of around 2,500 to 5,000, said a spokesman.

Israel's war in Gaza and Lebanon is escalating into an international crisis
Spokesman for the protest

The board wanted to show support for Israel's "right to defend itself", it added.

Henry Grunwald, president of the board, said: "At a time when the situation in the Middle East is extremely precarious, we would like to send a message of support to the people of Israel."

Saturday's demonstration in London against Israel's actions included a march past the US embassy and a rally in Hyde Park.

Metal barricades

Police estimated that 7,000 people took part in the London rally but organisers said more than 20,000 people attended the march from Whitehall to Hyde Park, including families and representatives from various faiths. No arrests were made during the protest.

Organisers estimated that there were 2,000 people at the march in Manchester, while the police put the figure at "up to 1,000".

In Birmingham around 200 protestors took to the streets, police said there were about 100 people in Sheffield, and there were around 150 in Newcastle.

Protesters gather in central London with Lebanese flags
The flag of Lebanon was at the forefront of the London protest

The London protest grew larger by the time it reached the US embassy, where about 50 uniformed police officers and metal barricades also prevented the march from accessing the main door.

Marchers shouted slogans at the Grosvenor Square embassy, such as "George Bush, terrorist" and "Down, down, USA."

The flag of Lebanon, banners, and a handful of Hezbollah flags, were also waved in the direction of the building.

'Peace for Lebanon'

There were also rallies in Kirkcaldy and Norwich, and there was a demonstration in Bristol on Friday.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, British Muslim Initiative and Lebanese organisations were also involved in organising demonstrations against what they call Israel's "crimes against humanity".

A spokesman for the protests said: "Israel's war in Gaza and Lebanon is escalating into an international crisis which could soon engulf the whole region.

"The promise by Bush and Blair, in the lead up to the Iraq war, that their wars would bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East and peace to Palestine have yet again been shown to be lies, just as the anti-war movement has consistently said they were."

Casualty numbers

Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells said he was pleased with how the evacuation plan had gone.

As for anyone who missed Saturday's deadline for evacuation, he said: "If necessary we will have to make arrangements."

Israel says its attacks on targets in Lebanon are aimed at securing the release of two Israeli soldiers, who were captured by Hezbollah militants on 12 July, and preventing further Hezbollah rocket attacks.

Thousands of civilians are struggling to leave southern Lebanon, as Israel continues air strikes and ground raids.

At least 349 Lebanese have been killed in the 11 days of violence, many of them civilians.

Thirty-four Israelis have been killed, including 15 civilians killed by rockets fired by Hezbollah into Israel.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear from some of the demonstration organisers



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