European peace groups protest IDF operations in Lebanon
Central London protest sees 7,000 activists calling "Hands off Lebanon!"
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Peace activists marched in several European cities Saturday to demand an end to Israel's strikes on Hizbullah terrorists.
In the largest demonstration, an estimated 7,000 activists paraded through rainy central London shouting, "Hands off Lebanon!"
Smaller crowds in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Warsaw, Poland, called on their governments to do more to pressure Israel to stop its offensive in Lebanon. Protesters also rallied in at least three other British cities.
The London demonstrators condemned Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has publicly supported Israel and failed to join the United Nations' call for an immediate cease-fire.
"There is a slaughter going on in Lebanon with complete aggression by Israel," Ghada Razuki, a national organizer for the Stop the War Coalition in London, said in an interview.
Israel attacked southern Lebanon after Hizbullah kidnapped two IDF soldiers on July 12. The ensuing violence has claimed the lives of more than 30 Israelis and 350 Lebanese and displaced 500,000 people.
Lebanese demonstrators carried one sign that read, "Lebanese civilians are being slaughtered. Do not turn your back on us."
Javeria Khan, 21, of London, joined other Muslim women clad in black abayas as they chanted, "Go to hell, Israel." "Israel is terrorizing all Muslim nations," Khan said. "It is trying to destroy our religion."
Other protesters openly voiced support for Hizbullah. "We are Hizbullah! Yes, yes Hizbullah!" a group of 50 people chanted in unison as others looked on with shocked expressions.
In the Polish capital, Warsaw, roughly 200 people demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy, waving the red-white-red Lebanese flag with its signature Cedar tree, and Palestinian flags. Organizers in Amsterdam said some 2,000 people took part in their rally, though police put the number closer to 700.
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