Europe protests call for halt to Gaza conflict
AFP - Sunday, January 11
LONDON (AFP) - - Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied across Europe on Saturday to call for an end to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The two biggest protests took place in London and Paris, with largely peaceful demonstrations in both capitals turning violent as the day wore on.
In London, angry demonstrators hurled sticks and stones at police outside the Israeli embassy as officers in riot gear and on horseback charged the crowd to keep them away from the building in the upmarket Kensington district.
Veteran left-wing campaigner Tariq Ali, who had led the march, said: "The most appalling violence is happening in Gaza -- a few punch-ups outside the Israeli embassy is neither here nor there."
Organisers hoped 100,000 people would attend the London rally, which began in Hyde Park before progressing to the Israeli embassy. Police estimated the crowd at 12,000.
About 30,000 people marched through Paris, the interior ministry said, and more than 90,000 joined protests in more than 120 towns and cities elsewhere in France.
In the capital, thousands of French men and women of Arab origin carrying Palestinian banners joined forces with left-wing militants amid cries of "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater) and "Israel murderer."
Protesters smashed a bus shelter and a telephone box in central Paris, and bottles were later thrown at riot police and shop windows smashed.
Police fired teargas after mobs overturned motor scooters and set them on fire.
A march in the southern city of Nice descended into violence. Seven police were hurt and 11 rioters arrested as youths broke off from a 2,500-strong crowd of protesters and smashed shop windows.
Demonstrations took place on the streets of other European cities including Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Oslo, Sarajevo and Stockholm.
Israel's offensive on Gaza went into a third week on Saturday as planes carried out more air strikes, while troops clashed with Hamas fighters despite international calls for a ceasefire as the death toll rose above 800.
Meanwhile, Hamas and other armed groups fired at least 13 rockets into Israel, wounding four people, the Israeli army said.
In Sarajevo, peace activist Svetlana Broz told a 1,000-strong pro-Palestinian demonstration that the city knew better than others "what happens when the world remains silent at a time when innocent civilians suffer", referring to the bloody siege of the city in the 1992-95 war in the former Yugoslavia.
Police in Oslo fired teargas after a small group among a crowd of 2,000 pelted them with stones, and up to 5,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm to call for an end to the military campaign.
More than 6,000 people gathered for a peaceful rally in Berlin, with similar shows of support for the Palestinians in Munich and Cologne.
In western Germany, some 10,000 people, largely from the ethnic Turkish community, protested in Duisburg. Police briefly intervened when demonstrators threw snowballs at a window bearing two Israeli flags.
Innsbruck in western Austria staged a peaceful protest of 3,500 people waving banners saying "Stop Israeli terror" and 7,000 protestors turned out in Bern, Switzerland.
In Athens, more than 2,000 people took part in a protest staged by left-wing groups and thousands demonstrated in Milan and Turin.
A rally is planned in Madrid on Sunday, while a pro-Israeli demonstration is scheduled to take place in London.
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Demonstrators in Lyon in central France against the Gaza assault. Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied across Europe on Saturday to call for an end to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
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