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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 August 2006, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Protesters call for Lebanon peace
London protest
The march will end with a rally outside Parliament
A march involving thousands of people calling for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon has taken place in London.

The Stop The War Coalition asked people at the demonstration to put children's shoes at the Cenotaph in protest at the deaths of children in the conflict.

March organisers said more than 100,000 people had attended the event, but police put the figure at about 20,000.

Campaigner Bianca Jagger said she backed the march's aims but not the anti-Israel views of some protesters.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said between three and five people were arrested in the Whitehall area for public order offences.

'Fermenting hatred'

The protest followed growing unease at how Prime Minister Tony Blair was dealing with the crisis.

Ms Jagger, who was at the head of the march as it prepared to set off from Hyde Park, said Mr Blair should call for an immediate ceasefire.

"As long as he doesn't do it, what he's creating is more hatred instead of bringing peace and security to the Middle East and Britain.

"What he is doing is fomenting hatred and destruction."

She added: "I support the existence of Israel and I think we are wrong to say otherwise.

"But watching the images of innocent children dying as we have been for the last 24 days does not promote a peaceful solution in the region."

There is a lack of understanding of Israel's situation
Columnist Maureen Lipman

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn was also among those who assembled at Hyde Park.

He said the protest "shows the unity of any normal thinking person in this country that there should be an immediate ceasefire and that the government's line is incomprehensibly wrong".

A group of orthodox Jews from Stamford Hill, north London, who do not accept the existence of Israel took part in the march to Parliament Square.

Spokesman Rabbi Jacob Weisz, said: "They take the whole Jewish people and put us into this bloody conflict."

London protest
Demonstrators were asked to bring shoes to lay at the Cenotaph

According to the Independent newspaper, 40,000 people have signed an open letter calling on Mr Blair to work towards an unconditional ceasefire.

The letter was to be handed in to Downing Street during the march.

Mr Blair delayed his annual holiday to try to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Downing Street said the prime minister had spoken by phone to the Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and reiterated his support for a seven-point plan for a ceasefire.

"The PM has been working since early this morning on the issue, taking briefings, making phone calls and meeting with advisers," a spokesman said.

"He has been focussing on the need for agreement on a text of the resolution expected to be tabled at the UN."

Cricket protest

Earlier, Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton acknowledged that there was a "sharp argument" within the Labour Party over the current crisis.

But he insisted that the differences were not about the objective of restoring peace, but about the means of achieving it.

And the actress Maureen Lipman, referring to Mr Blair's speech earlier this week as "pro-Israel", told the Jewish Chronicle: "It was brave. I was very pleased."

Children's shoes outside Downing Street's gates
Children's shoes were also thrown at Downing Street's gates

She added: "The death toll of women and children was terrible in the last attack. I felt ashamed.

"But we know terrorists use innocents as a human shield. There is a lack of understanding of Israel's situation and how there has been drip-drip terrorism ever since the withdrawal from Gaza."

In Glasgow, meanwhile, protesters were at a cricket match involving the Israeli national team.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Learmonth said the match had passed "without incident".

He said: "This was as a result of hard work by the police to facilitate both the rights of those playing cricket and those who wished to demonstrate."

Stop the War said the European series match in Anniesland should not take place amid the ongoing conflict.

In a statement, the European Cricket Council said it appreciated the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East and expressed sympathy for all those suffering.

"Both the ECC and the ICC believe this tournament can send out a positive message by showing the value of sport as a force for good and something to be enjoyed," it added.




SEE ALSO
Israeli cricket game protest vow
04 Aug 06 |  Glasgow and West
Minister condemns Israeli action
22 Jul 06 |  UK Politics

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