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Campaigners step up Gaza protests

Thursday, January 8 05:54 pm
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British campaigners stepped up protests against the Gaza conflict amid growing 
concerns about the impact of the fighting on civilians. Skip related content
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Campaigners step up Gaza protests

Amnesty International claimed Israeli soldiers were using Palestinians as human 
shields, while the United Nations halted aid shipments to Gaza after its staff 
and buildings were hit in attacks.

For a second day Israel temporarily suspended military action for three hours 
to allow Gazans to stock up on supplies, but aid agencies said only a full 
ceasefire would allow them to tackle the massive humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, police were preparing for further demonstrations by supporters of 
both Palestine and Israel in the coming days as tensions rose in Britain as a 
result of the bloody violence.

On Wednesday night nine men were arrested when two rival groups of protesters 
clashed in the streets outside the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, west London.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, who is responsible for Scotland 
Yard's central operations branch, said the demonstrations required at least 200 
officers every night and had already cost the Metropolitan Police £300,000.

Veteran peace campaigners Tony Benn and Brian Haw joined the launch of a 
non-stop vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament in protest at Israel's 
attacks. Activists plan to maintain a presence in Parliament Square around the 
clock until the Israeli military withdraws and the violence ends.

Mr Benn, 83, who retired from a long Parliamentary career in 2001, condemned 
the "massive humanitarian crisis" in Gaza. But he praised the thousands of 
people in Britain who have joined demonstrations for peace.

Further protests in London are planned this weekend, with the Stop the War 
Coalition organising a march from Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park to the Israeli 
Embassy on Saturday. The Board of Deputies of British Jews is planning a rally 
to call for peace in Israel and Gaza, which will take place in Trafalgar Square 
at 11am on Sunday.

British aid agencies Islamic Relief and Cafod warned the humanitarian crisis 
was deepening hour by hour.

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