Page last updated at 21:49 GMT, Monday, 29 December 2008

Arrests over Israeli embassy demo

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Protests outside the Israeli embassy in west London

Seven people were arrested after a second day of protests outside the Israeli Embassy in west London over Israel's air raids on Gaza.

The arrests were for public order offences including assaulting police. Objects were hurled at the embassy and a cone and policeman's hat set alight.

The BBC's Colette McBeth said there were "at least 500, perhaps more" people outside the Kensington building.

There were 10 arrests for public order offences at a protest there on Sunday.

Ms McBeth said Monday's protest blocked the road outside the embassy and brought traffic to a standstill.

The British government will have to do something
Ahmed Saif
Protester

She said she saw the objects being thrown towards the Israeli embassy and a traffic cone and a police helmet set alight.

However Ms McBeth added that by about 1900 GMT the number of protesters had dwindled to a "hardcore" of about 100 and the overall level of conflict with police had been lower than on the first day of protests.

The protesters vowed to return to the embassy on Tuesday and on every day Israel continued to bombard Gaza, she said.

One of the protesters, Ahmed Saif, 31, an Egyptian living in London, told the BBC: "I feel angry because of all that the Palestinians have been going through for the past 50 years.

"All the problems over the past 20 to 30 years for the West and the Middle East are because of this situation.

"Hopefully the people will start to listen, the British government will have to do something."

Also at the protest was Rabbi Chaim Blayer, 22, from Stamford Hill in north-east London.

Protesters outside Israeli embassy
Protesters blocked the road outside the Israeli embassy

He said he was there to protest on behalf of "our Palestinian brothers" and also to protest against the state of Israel.

He told the BBC: "There should be a whole state of Palestine. My community feels very shocked at what's going on.

"Groups in London synagogues are all talking about this, everybody is very upset about what is going on."

James Roberts, 27, also pro-Palestinian, said he had just returned two days earlier from nine months volunteering in Israel and the West Bank.

He told the BBC: "The situation there is very tense, people are wondering where it goes from here. People are wondering if it will become the third uprising.

He added: "The purpose of protests like this is to tell the Israelis that we know what they are doing and we utterly condemn their actions."

Meanwhile, a statement from Downing Street condemned the continuing violence in Gaza and reiterated calls "to Israel and Hamas for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further loss of innocent life".

There is no military solution to this situation
Downing Street statement

The statement added: "In his discussions today with Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, the prime minister has also pressed for full, unimpeded and urgent access for medical teams: a humanitarian breathing space.

"There is no military solution to this situation."

The statement said the UK government was in "close contact" with the UN over the situation.

Police said up to 700 people joined the demonstration in London at the weekend.

Protesters resisted and threw placards when officers forcibly moved them back so that the road could be reopened.

The clashes began after a small group of protesters stormed a barrier that had been penning them in.

'Bitter end'

Riot police were brought in to control the crowds and demonstrators were seen being handcuffed and taken away by officers as they tried to clear the street.

The latest protest comes as top Israeli officials vowed to continue attacks on militant group Hamas and Israeli air strikes pounded the Gaza Strip for a third day.

Israel was fighting a "war to the bitter end" against Hamas, its defence chief said.

A top army official said no Hamas buildings would be left standing.

Hamas said hundreds of Palestinians had died since Saturday.

Two Israelis have been killed by rockets so far.

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