Israel air strikes spark protests worldwide
AFP - Monday, December 29
LONDON (AFP) - - Demonstrators in cities around the world Sunday marched in protest against the Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip that have killed nearly 300 people in the Palestinian territory.
British police made 10 arrests as a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in London turned violent. Riot police moved in after people tore down the barriers keeping them back from the embassy.
Earlier Sunday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called for an "urgent ceasefire and immediate halt to all violence" in Gaza.
A call to "urgently halt" the military action also came from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who spoke to his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni.
The top diplomats in Italy and Spain, Franco Frattini and Miguel Angel Moratinos, also spoke by telephone with Livni who said Israel would try "to limit the suffering of the people of Gaza," the Italian foreign ministry said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, told Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas by telephone of his grave concerns about the escalating violence in the region and the need for both sides to stop their aggressions.
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday denounced the violence between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza, and urged everyone involved in the "tragic situation in the Middle East" to strive for humanity and wisdom.
Around Euorpean capitals, Danish police arrested a man on the fringes of a protest march in Copenhagen after he threw a petrol bomb at officers. Police said the rally drew about 700 people, though organisers put the number closer to 2,000.
In Paris, about 200 people gathered on the Champs Elysees, while across the city in the northern district of Barbes, an area with a high concentration of north Africans, police said 1,300 others had joined an anti-Israel protest.
In Madrid, hundreds of people demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy, brandishing placards reading "Israel terrorist", "Stop state terrorism" and "No to the Palestinian holocaust."
The largest single protest of about 8,000 people took place in Egypt on the streets of the southern city of Assiut. Some 4,000 protesters rallied in the capital Cairo, while a demonstration in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria drew a similar number, a security official said.
Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah urged Egyptians in their "millions" to take to the streets to force their government to open the country's border with Gaza, to help save Palestinians from the Israeli bombardments.
Another major showing of anti-Israeli sentiment was seen in Turkey where thousands of people joined demonstrations in about a dozen Turkish cities.
In Syria, protesters burned Israeli and American flags as thousands demonstrated in central Damascus. Security was tight around the US embassy, which lies some two kilometres (just over a mile) from the scene of the protest in the Syrian capital.
Demonstrators also burned Israeli flags in the Jordanian capital Amman, where hundreds of people led by Islamist lawmakers gathered to demand the closure of the Israeli embassy.
With Egypt, Jordan is one of only two Arab governments to have signed peace treaties with Israel.
The Israeli bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza has killed more than 280 people since Saturday, the Jewish state's biggest offensive against the Palestinian territory since its capture in the 1967 Middle East war.
British aid agency Oxfam warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in Gaza if the Israeli bombardments do not cease.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement: "The influx of war wounded has put a tremendous strain on Gaza's already overburdened hospitals, which are in dire need of medical equipment."
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