Hundreds of protesters crowded the streets of South Kensington, close to the Israeli Embassy, on Thursday night in two demonstrations – one shouting “Free Palestine”, the other singing “Od Avinu Chai”.
Gary Sakol from the Zionist Federation, who organised the pro-Israel rally said: “It went really well. There were 250 of us, the other side of three police vans from the main rally.” Demonstrators wore Israeli flags and sang traditional songs. Speakers included Jonathan Hoffman and Ari Sofer.
Further down Kensington High Street, separated from the road of the Israeli Embassy by a wall of police and iron gates, was the pro-Palestinian protest. An estimated 300 to 400 demonstrators wore Palestinian flags, carried loudspeakers and chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
Large contingents from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Worker newspaper were present, chanting: “Shame on you, Israel!”
Taking part in the pro-Palestinian protest was LSE student Yaar Peretz from Tel Aviv, who is a long time supporter of the Israeli boycott campaign. A master’s student of human rights, he said: “It’s not about who fired the first shot, it’s about rights. Jews suffered in the Holocaust because their human rights were not respected, and now they are not respecting the human rights of Palestinians.”