Anti-Israel demonstrations: Six arrested

By Leon Symons, March 24, 2009

Six men have been arrested in connection with two anti-Israeli demonstrations in London in January.

The demonstrations were held in protest at Israel’s action in Gaza and took place every Saturday for several weeks at the start of the year. Two demonstrations on January 3 and 10 became violent with attacks on police and shops and cafes near the Israeli embassy in Kensington.

The arrests came about as part of an investigation into the violence, code-named Operation Ute, which was launched in the wake of the demonstrations that left a total of 55 police officers injured, the most serious of which was an officer who was knocked unconscious after being hit by a metal object on January 10.

Those arrested on Tuesday included three teenagers and three men in their twenties from north-west and west London. A seventh man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a class A drug.

Officers from Operation Ute are still seeking 40 people suspected of having been involved in the violent incidents. So far 62 people have been arrested and released on bail.

Chief Superintendent Ian Thomas, in charge of the Metropolitan Police’s Public Order Branch, said: “What happened during these demonstrations in January and what our officers and those shop-keepers were subjected to, was not and cannot be described as lawful protest. A small minority of people set out that day not to air their views but to fight police and cause damage. I have no doubt that a small hardcore acted as antagonists during the demonstrations stirring up the crowd.”

Last updated: 5:18pm, March 26 2009