More jailed for Gaza protest violence

By Jessica Elgot, February 26, 2010

More protesters 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 prison. One will serve ten months in a Young Offenders Institute. Another was given 12 months conditional discharge and one given an 18 month supervision order.

All had pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

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.

Seventeen protestors have now been jailed, for between eight months and two and a half years.

Judge John Denniss said while sentencing the first batch of offenders a fortnight ago that he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent against such violent protest.

He said: “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.

News of the relatively severe sentencing has provoked strong reaction from supporters of the Stop The War Coalition.

They planned to protest outside the court and on Tuesday will hold a meeting at the House of Commons sponsored by Respect MP George Galloway.

The Stop The War Coalition have described the sentences as "draconian" particularly because many of those convicted are first time offenders.

Last updated: 12:14pm, March 3 2010