Worthy Christian News » World News » Anti-Israel Protests Turn Violent
By David Haggith, Worthy News International Correspondent
JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Worthy News) -- With the death toll of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip reportedly rising to over 900 and Hamas militants firing rockets deep into Israel, anti and pro-Israel protests have spread throughout the world, with some of them turning violent.
In London, about 20,000 supporters of the militant group Hamas protested Israel's military actions, with some of them wearing masks chanting: "Hey, ho, Israel has gotta go" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." The slogans were believed to refer to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and apparently suggested that Israel must be wiped off the map.
The demonstration turned violent when protests marched from London's Hyde Park to the Israeli Embassy, waving Palestinian flags. They knocked over crowd-control barriers, set off firecrackers, broke windows and threw broken glass at police along with pilfered cups and saucers from a ransacked Starbucks store, witnesses said.
At least 15 people were injured including three officers. One policeman was taken away unconscious, police officials said, adding that 15 demonstrators were detained. There were also violent protests in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, where riots included throwing shoes and red paint through the gates of the American Consulate, witnesses said. In Olso, Norway, 2,000 demonstrators threw stones at police, news reports said.
One of the largest protests in the world against Israel happened over the weekend in Egypt where an estimated 50,000 Muslim demonstrators gathered to condemn Israel's military strike after Friday prayers.
Some Egyptian legislators, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood group, were seen carrying signs "Down with Israel and with every collaborator."
There were also pro-Israeli rallies however, including in Berlin, London, Antwerp and the Ukrainian town of Odessa, Ukraine, while crowds also gathered as far away as Mexico City and in the United States cities of Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and New York.
There were emotional scenes in Berlin, the capital of a re-united Germany which often still struggles with its Nazi-past. Protesters said that nowhere in the world is it more important to show solidarity with Israel than here in Germany.
"The same spirit that once was here, very strong from Berlin, to destroy the Jewish people is now a spirit that comes from fundamentalist Islam to destroy Israel. It's our responsibility to see that something like that never happens again," one protester said.
In Chicago, over 3,000 gathered to show support for Israel, where Steven Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund, told the crowd, "Three years ago Israel unilaterally left Gaza, providing the Palestinians the opportunity to build, flourish and grow. Instead, [militant group] Hamas took over and pursued destruction and death, turning Gaza into a 24/7 missile launching pad against Israeli civilians...."
He said it is "incomprehensible that—60 years after the birth of the modern State of Israel—we are still defending Israel's right to exist in the court of world opinion and on the streets of Chicago."
Nasatir the conflict is about the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel. "It's about an attempt to destroy the State of Israel," he argued.
Not all Jews agree. In London, Jewish protesters proclaimed said they were opposed to Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip. "We're Jews. We are totally opposed to the Israeli assault on Gaza. We're utterly appalled by the mass murder that's being committed," they said. "There are many Jews in Britain who are deeply opposed to what the Israeli government is doing."
The Israeli government and military have accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields to increase the death toll and using television images to gain sympathy. They say the military operation is aimed at ending Hamas' rocket strikes against Israel, however several Western diplomats have said Israel's military response is "disproportionate."