NEWS

Athens feels some Gaza side effects

Three people were arrested after riot police had to fire tear gas outside the Israeli Embassy in Athens yesterday to keep back hundreds of protesters who had gathered to voice their opposition to Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip. Separate protests organized by the local Palestinian community, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the anti-globalization group Social Forum converged outside the Israeli Embassy yesterday, as Israeli air strikes on Gaza continued for a third day, taking the Palestinian death toll to more than 320. The protests were mainly peaceful, including a moment of prayer by some 100 Muslim demonstrators, but police fired tear gas and stun grenades and arrested three Arab men when some members of the crowd attempted to tear down the Israeli flag. On the political front, the government and opposition parties called for an end to the bombing. Greece has also offered to send humanitarian assistance to Gaza. «Greece, which condemns every form of violence and terrorism, is ready to contribute toward this effort. It is also ready to offer humanitarian aid as soon as this is possible,» said Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in a statement. Bakoyannis, who spoke yesterday with the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said that Israel’s response to the firing of rockets by Hamas, «which sparked a new cycle of violence,» was «disproportionate.» Bakoyannis also spoke to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner ahead of an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Paris today. PASOK MP Andreas Loverdos called for the EU to take the initiative in brokering a ceasefire and getting humanitarian aid to the area.