Taxpayers face a bill of more than £1million after violence erupted during a weekend of demonstrations over the Israeli military action in Gaza.
Extremists were blamed for clashes which broke out near the Israeli embassy in London, as tens of thousands marched in protest over Israel’s offensive.
Police believe a small number of activists tried to hijack the demonstration and turn it into a riot.
Flashpoint: Police hold back protesters marching on the Israeli embassy in Kensington on Saturday
Shop windows were smashed and police pelted with bricks and bottles by masked youths near the embassy in Kensington during the largest demonstration against Israel’s military action. Protesters smashed up a police van before torching an Israeli flag.
Many are thought to have travelled to London with the aim of causing anarchist mayhem at Saturday’s demonstration, organised by the Stop the War Coalition.
It is believed coachloads of Muslim youths with Pakistani origins attended the demonstration after being driven from Yorkshire and the Midlands.
Protesters smash a window of a Starbucks coffee shop next to the Israeli Embassy on Saturday night
Belgian riot police stand near a car destroyed during a pro-Palestinians demonstration in central Brussels, against the Israeli air strikes on Gaza
A total of 24 arrests were made, mainly for violent disorder. Three police officers and 20 protesters suffered minor injuries. Scotland Yard sources say the cost of policing Saturday’s demonstration, and other Gaza-related protests in London over the past week, already exceeds £1million.
Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Broadhurst hit out at ‘the irresponsible and criminal actions’ of the rioters.
A man is arrested during a pro-Palestinians demonstration in central Brussels
‘A hard core of demonstrators has undermined the cause of the vast majority of demonstrators, who are law abiding citizens wishing to protest peacefully,’ he said.
Yesterday, there were two more demonstrations in Central London. Thousands of Israeli supporters gathered in Trafalgar Square. A rival pro-Palestinian march, attended by several hundred, started from Marble Arch. Both passed off peacefully.
In an open letter to a Sunday newspaper, 11 prominent British Jews called on Israel to end its military campaign in Gaza.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday that his country’s deadliest ever military offensive in the Gaza Strip was nearing its goal, but fighting would continue for several more days.
Despite global calls for a ceasefire, Israeli troops backed by tanks pushed to the edge of Gaza City while their warplanes continued their attack. At least 26 Palestinians were killed in clashes. Hamas fired at least ten rockets into Israel, but no one was injured.