100,000 people from all over Britain joined today's march in London, to protest at the Israeli Embassy against the continuing relentless attacks on Gaza's civilian population. Ray Davies, 79 year old Vice Chair of CND Cymru, sustained head injuries, concussion and cuts when he was trapped with hundreds of others against the Embassy gates by Metropolitan Police.
The march had gone peacefully until it reached the Embassy. Many shoes were thrown over the fence in a symbolic gesture of defiance, but the police claimed that the shoes were aimed at them , and began to lash out at the crowd. Three rows of police, in full riot gear and with heavy shields penned a section of the protesters in an alleyway beside the Israeli Embassy. Ray tried to negotiate between the protesters and the police; he explained that the police had not been the target of the shoes, and asked to be allowed to pass through in order to deliver a letter to the ambassador calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
In response, the special riot police shouted obscenities at Ray, and told him to "get back with the rest of the scum".
Scuffles broke out, and the heavy steel barriers around the Embassy were pushed over. Ray, at the front of the march, was unable to escape, and two policemen hit him on the head with truncheons, cut him on the face with the sharp edge of the heavy riot shields, and proceeded to kick him to the ground, bleeding with cuts on his nose and hands. He suffered concussion for a while, and medics pleaded to take him to hospital ; but when he regained consciousness he wanted to get home on the bus rather than spend the night in a London casualty unit.
He was treated at the University Hospital of Wales, and discharged.
"I have experienced the war zones in the Occupied Territories; I have been shot at ,teargassed and beaten by the Israeli Defence Force; but I never expected such abuse and brutal treatment in Britain from our own police force."
The violent reaction to today's march was in complete contrast to the peaceful protests held throughout the past weeks in Wales. There have been two vigils in memory of the victims of Israel's bombing of Gaza; a fundraising concert with Frankie Armstrong, which raised £1200 for Middle East Childrens Alliance, and the enormously successful fundraising dinner at City Hall for the Islamic Relief Fund; and a march and rally on Friday, one of the biggest Cardiff has seen in many years, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza