Hundreds protest against Israel in London

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Several hundred people protested outside the British prime minister's Downing Street residence in London Monday to denounce Israel after its deadly raid on an aid convoy heading for Gaza.

Chanting "Free Palestine" and brandishing the Palestinian flag and banners condemning Israeli "war crimes", activists blocked a major route through the capital as they staged an angry but peaceful demonstration.

"We have close friends on the boat on which people were killed and we are here waiting for news," said Kate Hudson, the chairwoman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), one of the protesters.

"We are trying to get through to them but we are not getting any answers."

Maha Rahwanji, 35, the daughter of Palestinian exiles who lives in London, shed tears as she spoke about the storming of the aid flotilla by Israeli commandos, which left around 10 activists dead.

"Today marks the anniversary of my father's death. Instead of being at a memorial service, after he died 20 years ago for the cause, instead of being at his graveside to remember him, I am mourning the loss of another 20 people," she said. Earlier reports had suggested at least 19 dead in the raid.

"What has happened to the flotilla is just heartbreaking."

Israel blamed the flotilla's passengers for initiating the violence, but the incident has sparked international outrage.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has deplored the loss of life and urged the Jewish state to lift the "unacceptable and counter-productive" restrictions on aid going into the Palestinian territory.

© 2010 AFP

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