Wednesday, 22 May 2024

London erupts into chaos as police make arrests near protests at Israeli embassy

Thousands of Palestinians protest in London over Israel-Gaza conflict

Three people have been arrested in London during protests and vigils following Saturday’s attack by Hamas militants on Israel.

Police stepped up their presence on the streets of the capital after the violence, which has seen at least 700 Israelis killed. Israel has responded with airstrikes on Gaza, with at least 400 estimated to have died as a result.

Supporters of both Israel and Palestine took to the streets last night.

A vigil arranged by the board Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council in Westminster, close to Downing Street, was attended by roughly 2,000 people.

Simultaneously, groups including Stop the War and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington, with many waving placards urging Israel to “end the occupation”. The embassy was earlier boarded up as a precaution.

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A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “UK policing has an obligation to uphold the right to protest. However we are clear that where any activity crosses into criminality we will, and have, taken action.”

Consequently, at 7.40pm, British Transport Police officers arrested a 15-year-old male on Kensington High Street, in the vicinity of High Street Kensington Underground Station on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker, the statement continued.

Twenty minutes later, a 70-year-old man was arrested in the Kensington area on suspicion of a racially motivated criminal damage. He has been taken to a central London police station.

At 9pm, a 29-year-old man was arrested in Oxford Street on suspicion on causing actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon.

All three have been taken to a central London police station.

Video footage showed angry confrontations between masked youths and police, with hundreds of attendees waving flags. Some let of fireworks and flares.

The spokesman added: “During the protests in Kensington High Street a number of individuals were observed engaging in criminal damage of a building.

“We have gathered evidence and active enquiries are under way to identity, locate and arrests those suspected of being involved.

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“We are aware of concerns being raised about flags and other symbols being displayed in a way that could lead to people feeling threatened.”

However, specialist officers had determined they were not flags of proscribed organisations.

The spokesman explained: “The waving of a particular flag is not, in itself, a specific criminal offence unless it relates to a proscribed organisation. At present, no offences were identified.”

Londoners would continue to see officers on the streets in the coming days to offer reassurance and protection, the spokesman said.

Anyone with concerns, or who has witnessed any offences is being asked to speak to an officer or contact the police online, via 101 or call 999 in an emergency.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he will “stop at nothing” to keep Britain’s Jewish community safe, before promising support for Israel along with other world leaders after the Hamas attacks.

Mr Sunak addressed a synagogue in north London to express his solidarity for Israel and to reassure Britain’s Jews.

He said: “We stand with Israel, the United Kingdom stands with Israel against this terrorism today, tomorrow and always.”

Roughtly 1,500 bodies of Hamas militants have been found in Israeli territory, the Israeli military said Tuesday after announcing it had largely gained control in the south and “restored full control” over the border on the fourth day of fighting following the unprecedented surprise attack.

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