A group of young Jewish activists gathered in Parliament Square in Central London to say kaddish for the 62 Palestinians who were killed in clashes on the Gaza border earlier this week.
The gathering, attended by more than 50 activists, was advertised on the Facebook page of Meretz UK, the British branch of the left-wing Israeli political party.
The names of each of the victims of this week’s conflict were read aloud, before the mourning prayer was read. At one point the group was confronted by pro-Israel counter-demonstrators.
One of the Jewish speakers said: “When Palestinians stand resolute on the Gazan border, their freedom and their right to return, they are not committing acts of terrorism, they are performing a mitzvah.
“I am here because I refuse to sit by as my community doesn’t condemn outrageous acts of violence.”
Another said he attended because he was “sick of listening to (people) equivocate and make excuses for Israel”.
On Wednesday, a Hamas spokesperson told an Arabic TV channel that 50 of those killed had been Hamas members. The Islamic Jihad group claimed three more.
A woman with an Israeli accent interrupted the demonstration, saying “shame on you” before being escorted away by one of the organisers.
Another man then confronted demonstrators in a foul-mouthed rant, saying that "if you are Jewish, (Hamas) would have killed you".
The kaddish group told the JC it held the demonstration to protest the “Israeli occupation and the disproportionate force of the Israeli regime”. It also called for UK communal bodies to “to uphold Jewish values by speaking out strongly against this violence”.
A group spokesman said: “We have watched the violence unfolding in Gaza, particularly over the past few days, and felt anguished that the State of Israel, which claims to be a Jewish State, is inflicting such immense suffering on Palestinians.
“We are angry at the Jewish institutions here in the UK that have blindly supported the State of Israel this week, by blaming Palestinians for the violence that Israel committed against them.
“We are angry that parts of our community choose to remain ignorant of the situation, refusing to speak about the Nakba and refusing to listen to Palestinian narratives.
“We, as diaspora Jews, will not allow ourselves to become immune or apathetic to the violence committed by the State of Israel. We will never accept Israel’s violence as normal. We will never accept Israel’s violence as inevitable.”