Seven jailed for Gaza protest violence

Seven men have been jailed for between 12 months and two-and-a-half years for offences during the violent protests in London against Israel's actions during the Gaza offence.

By Jessica Elgot, February 17, 2010
Protestors in January 2009 outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington

Protestors in January 2009 outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington

Seven men, two of whom hold Palestinian nationality, have been jailed for offences during the January 2009 violent protest in London against Israel’s operation in Gaza.

At Isleworth Crown Court, one of the protesters was sentenced to 12 months in a young offenders’ institution (YOI) and three people were imprisoned for 18 months, one in a YOI.

Two more protesters were sentenced for two years, one in a YOI and another has been jailed for two and a half years. Six of the men pleaded guilty to violent disorder at the protest and one to handling stolen goods.

More than 5,000 people attended the demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in January and protests occurred across the capital during December 2008 and January 2009.

After the protests in January 2009, 63 people were charged, the majority with public order offences.

In October, 45 people pleaded guilty and will be sentenced over the coming weeks. Trials are yet to be held for 17 people who have pleaded not guilty. One case has been discharged.

On January 8 2010 two female protesters were jailed for 15 months for public order offences at Isleworth Crown Court.

Judge John Denniss said he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent against such violent protest.

He said: “Such offences often involve young men such as you who are of otherwise of exemplary character.

“But the sentences given must act as a deterrent for those who may commit such offences in the future.

“Peaceful protest is the hallmark of a truly democratic society. They may sometimes even be boisterous. But what happened on January 10 goes way beyond this and warranted a measured response from the police.”

Police said the men threw placards and sticks and pushed and kicked police officers.

Several of the protesters entered a local branch of Starbucks in Kensington, close to the Israeli embassy and threw mugs from the coffee shop at the police.

Sentencing for those who pleaded guilty will continue this Friday and the following Friday.

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust said: "The level of violence on the anti-Israel demonstrations was completely unacceptable and, combined with the record number of antisemitic incidents last January, caused genuine fear amongst the Jewish community.

"The right to demonstrate is important but should not be abused in this way, and we applaud the work of the police and the courts to identify and convict those who broke the law."

Last updated: 4:54pm, February 18 2010