Thousands Demonstrate Across the World Against Israel's Gaza Flotilla Raid

Swedish Port Workers Union launch week-long ban, saying act is reaction to 'unprecedented criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy.'

Several thousand people demonstrated in Paris on Saturday to show solidarity with the Palestinians and denounce an Israeli raid on a Turkish aid boat bound for Gaza, with Jews participating alongside Muslims.


Protesters gathered in the Bastille area, in a rally which included Palestinian flags and one banner saying "French Jewish Union For Peace" with around 100 French Jews following it. It was not clear just how many were there in total.

"I think the blockade of Gaza is counter-productive for Israel," Michel Bontemps, a French Jew, told Reuters Television.

"Showing solidarity with the Palestinians in no way means you are a terrorist," added Youssef Ben Derbal, a French national who was on the Turkish aid ship seized by Israeli forces earlier this week.

In a further protest against Israel, French cinema operator Utopia said it would refuse to screen Israeli-made film "Five Hours From Paris", even though the movie is about a love-story and does not have a heavy political dimension to it.

In Dublin, hundreds of people marched through the city centre to demonstrate against the seizure by Israel of the Rachel Corrie which carried Irish and other activists. The protesters headed for the foreign ministry, which has not commented on the boarding of the ship.

"[I came] to voice my absolute disgust at what the Israeli government has been at, kidnapping our citizens," said John Buckley, a college lecturer who took part in the protest.

"The Israelis have no right to intercept ships in the middle of the sea and they have no right to implement the blockade in the first place, it's completely illegal," he said.
In London, thousands of protesters wearing t-shirts with slogans like "Free Gaza" converged outside the prime minister's official residence at Downing Street, before staging a noisy march to the Israeli embassy.


Thousands of Australian demonstrators joined the global wave of protests and flocked to Sydney's Town Hall Saturday to protest Israel's lethal raid on a flotilla headed for Gaza last week.

An Israeli flag was burnt as demonstrators mostly from Sydney's large Turkish and Lebanese communities railed against the Jewish state.

Huseyin Erbis, 28, told Australia's AAP news agency that Israel deserved international censure for the blockade of Gaza and its effect on Palestinians.
"They criticize the Muslims but really our prophet was always kind to the Jewish people," he said.

The Sydney protest was replicated in cities around Australia.

Anti-U.S., Israel demonstrations had also taken place in several New Zealand cities, as Pro-Palestinian protestors set fire to flags of Israel and the United States.

The throwing of shoes has become a symbol of opposition to US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, following the example of an Iraqi journalist who threw one at then-president George W Bush during a press conference in December 2008.

Earlier, Swedish dockworkers will launch a weeklong blockade of Israeli ships and goods arriving in the Nordic nation to protest Monday's attack on a Gaza-destined aid flotilla.

Swedish Port Workers Union spokesman Peter Annerback says workers will refuse to handle Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 blockade. The union has some 1,500 members and supports Ship to Gaza, which took part in the flotilla.
It says the reason for the blockade is "the unprecedented criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy."

It was unclear Saturday how much the blockade would affect trade between the two countries since the union still needs to identify cargos with Israeli origin.
"The sole of the shoe is dirty and holding it up that to a person or a place is an insult," John Minto, protest leader of the Global Peace and Justice organization, told reporters.