- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2009

LONDON | Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in European cities Saturday against Israel’s attacks on Gaza, including protesters who hurled shoes at the tall iron gates outside the British prime minister’s residence in London and waved Palestinian flags.

The protests took place hours before the military action escalated Saturday, with Israeli ground troops crossing the border into Gaza.

More than 460 people have been killed and 1,700 injured in waves of Israeli air strikes.

In London, at least 10,000 people, many carrying Palestinian flags, marched past Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street residence to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Outside Downing Street, hundreds of protesters stopped and threw shoes at the gates that block entry to the narrow road.

Shoe-throwing has become a popular gesture of protest and contempt since an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush in Baghdad last month.

Police estimated the crowd in London at 10,000 to 12,000, but organizers said the number was much higher. The marchers included activist Bianca Jagger, former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox and comedian Alexei Sayle.

“As a Jew, it’s very moving to see so many people who are so outraged at Israel’s actions,” Mr. Sayle said. “Israel is a democratic country that is behaving like a terrorist organization.”

After the rally, a smaller group of about 2,000 protesters marched on the Israeli Embassy in west London, and some youths scuffled with police and hurled objects at officers in riot gear. Several demonstrators were led away by police after leaping over metal barriers holding them back from the embassy.

Rallies also were held in other British cities — including Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow — and across Europe. Protests in Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and Berlin all drew thousands of people.

In Paris, police said 21,000 marched through the streets, shouting “We are all Palestinians” and “Israel assassin.” Later, a small group of protesters burned Israeli flags, set fire to at least three cars and smashed shop and cafe windows in a central Paris area popular with shoppers. Riot police attempted to contain the violence.

Angry protests continued for a second day in Turkey, where about 5,000 demonstrators shouted “killer Israel” in downtown Ankara.

In the Netherlands, thousands of people marched through Amsterdam, criticizing both the Israeli attacks and the Dutch government’s failure to condemn them. One banner declared: “Anne Frank is turning in her grave. Oh Israel!”

More than 4,000 people demonstrated in Duesseldorf, Germany, and about 5,000 in Frankfurt. One group in Duesseldorf held up a doll representing a bleeding baby with the placard “Made in Israel.”

In Berlin, more than 7,000 people braved freezing weather for a march along the capital’s central boulevard, Unter den Linden.

Another 2,500 demonstrated in Salzburg, Austria, while scores protested peacefully in Madrid outside the Spanish Foreign Ministry.

Hundreds more marched in the Swedish cities of Malmo and Uppsala, while in Oslo, demonstrators marched from the parliament to the Israeli Embassy, calling on Israel to “let Gaza live.”

Most of the protests were peaceful, but in Athens - the scene of violent demonstrations by anarchist youths over the past month - a few of the 5,000 protesters threw stones and gasoline bombs at police outside the Israeli Embassy. Riot police retaliated with tear gas and stun grenades.

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