London Demo 28 December

London Demo against Gaza carnage Content Eyewitness report – Sunday December 28th

Arrival of the dogs

Arrival of the dogs

The London Metropolitan Police have managed the impossible – they made hundreds of people ona peaceful demonstration in the heart of London feel a bot like the people they were trying to represent – the Palestinians of Gaza. At the demonstration beside the gates of Palace Green, the leafy avenue of the embassies in Kensington, and the road leading to the Israeli embassy. The Israelis who may have been in the embassy – not many, one assumes, on Sunday evening – had nothing to worry about. The BBC website tells us that there were 2000 demonstrators there – a figure I very much doubt – then there were about two policemen for every demonstrators. The roads between Kensington Church Street and Kensington Gore – just over half-a-mile stretch, where all blocked and coked full of police forces, including the much loved dog unit, which indeed was drafted in to intimidate the protesters, once they really got into the rhythm of brutal policing. Beside me, a young man was trying to argue with the police using logics: “what are you afraid off? Of those people who have come to pray for the Gaza people? Are you not ashamed standing here, protecting the embassy of murderers?” It was to no avail, obviously. I have asked him to move along, telling him I had the feeling they are about to get nasty, and he will make an ideal target. He saw the point, seemingly, and retreated to the back. The demonstrators were made of people of all ages, from babies to very old and frail men and women, including two people in wheel chairs. At about 16:00, immediately after the official start of the protest, many of the protesters have kneeled down for the evening prayer, men and women in different groups, and prayed peacefully. It will be wrong to say that people were not angry – every one of us there was madly angry with the barbaric Israeli murder and destruction – but this did not translate itself into violence against the police, who kept the road to the embassy blocked by lines of sturdy policemen and women. There was something ugly in the air, though. As I was few inches away from the policemen, taking one of the photographs below, at about 16:20, I overheard one of the policemen advising a young man who found he could not get to the other side of the cordon, and just wanted to get there, being a tourist on shopping tour “just go back and scram, I tell you, do it now. There will some action in few minutes and you don’t want to be here”. So, it became clear to me that the violence will be manufactured pretty soon. It did indeed take less than five minutes, and the police cordon was swiftly reinforced by a large number, joining and starting to hit those close to them and push them with enormous force. Democracy in action, I suppose. I tried to take as many photographs as I could of this, until a well aimed hit on camera finished off the flash, so I continued to take photos as best I could, but many of the more brutal ones are, as a result, too dark. In the mad melee which followed, a SKY TV reporter in a beautiful red coat, in mid sentence facing her cameraman, was knocked down and about to be trampled upon by the advance of the forces of law and order, but for the efforts of the protesters which have surrounded her, hammered by the police for so doing, until she could be got up, very badly shocked and quite shaken. Things were happening so fast you could do nothing bur get pushed, and pandemonium was really frightening, with the police behaviour something to be seen to be believed. It well reminded me of the last time I was on demo at one of the checkpoints in Palestine, which seemed apposite. I have tried to pose as a press photographer, with my large professional camera, as I attempted to film the police getting the dogs into the crowd, and snatching individual protesters and hammering them into the road surface, four policemen to one demonstrator. Blood was flowing freely by that point, and as snatched a couple of shaky images, a huge policeman grabbed me with force I can only describe as brutal, and joined by another one rammed me back into the crowd but hitting me on the back for good measure. I could see some ten demonstrators at least led away, or rather dragged away with blood pouring from their wounds, and I moved rather quickly not to become the next prey. This is where I saw the CNN reporter, in mid sentence, on the background of all this violence, speaking of ‘extremists’, of Hamas and Hizbollah flags, as well as the flag of the ‘Palestinian State’. This was too much even for me, and I stopped him in his flow to ask since when did we havea Palestinian state, a comment he dod not really appreciate, but at least it got him packing and reteating before the obviously superior forces of the Met. At this point, there was nothing to do but disperse or be hit and arrested. The road was filled with shocked and shaken people, and one was saying to his friend as they ran past me “this is almost as bad as the Israelis”. He had a point. Haim Bresheeth A link toa BBC report which is not totally useless, but misses the point: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7802078.stm The pictures below were taking by me:

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Policeman rearranging PEACE in CAPE! on his car

Policeman rearranging PEACE into CAPE! on his car

This policeman just noticed that a police car was used to advertise peace, by some of the protesters who passed by it. As I passed, and noticed him rearranging it into CAPE! I asked if the police is against peace on principle, a question which almost cost me an arrest…

People praying

People praying

At this point, despite the seriousness of the issues which brought the demonstrators out into the cold London evening, all was well organised and civilised

Large Palestine flag

Large Palestine flag

The large PSC Palestine flag we have seen on so many demonstrations, is unfurled and displayed

Demonstartors

Demonstrators

Demonstrators at about 16:10, when the whole thing may have looked as if it will pass without serious incidents

Police line at Palace Green

Police line at Palace Green

It was at this point in time, as I took numerous photos of the police line, that I heard one of them referring to ‘some action in few minutes’, and realised it all going to turn nasty. But as you can see, this was reason for jollity

Waiting for action

Waiting for action

They never like it when you take their pictures, but what the hell, I am allowed to do what I want in this democracy… but one of them was the policeman who then pushed me brutally so that I could not photograph the ‘special treatment’ on the road surface

Overall view

Overall view

Everywhere in Palestine, one can see the towering ‘security constructions of Militarized Israel, policing and controlling from above, directing fire, missiles, bombs and helicopters, all carrying out death and destruction in dense civilian population centres

Evening prayer

Evening prayer

All around the place about two hundred men and women were praying, in small groups, as the police charged

Anti-Zionist Haredim

Anti-Zionist Haredim

about fifteen Haredi Jews were there, stalwarts of such demonstrations, and a reminder that Jews, as devout as themselves, do consider Zionism and its atrocities in the same way that you and me might – their Judaism is what they use against such barbarities, in the same way that devout Muslims may be against Al Aida

In between

In between

Just a couple of minutes before the explosion of violence, This rabbi takes a minute to explain his position on Zionism to a newcomer to the political scene

A deminstrator beaten by the police

A demonstrator beaten by the police

This is the demonstrator who was the first one to be taken and beaten up brutally, and then arrested
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