‘If it wasn’t for the police we would have been lynched’: Grandfather, 68, is revealed as victim of two-footed flying kick when Israel and Palestinian supporters clashed near Downing Street
- Former Bank of England economist Jonathan Hoffman said he was ‘terrified’ after being attacked in Whitehall
- He was among pro-Israel demonstrators counter-protesting pro-Palestine activists near to Downing Street
- As group were being led away by police, peaceful protestor, Mr Hoffman, 68, was victim of two-footed attack
- Protests took place as violence between Israel and Hamas continued, amid anger over Sheikh Jarrah evictions
- Dozens more people, including ten children, have been killed overnight as the Middle East violence continues
- United Nation’s Security Council is due to meet today to discuss ongoing crisis between Israel and Palestine
The peaceful protestor who was the victim of a shocking two-footed attack close to Downing Street was a 68-year-old grandfather, MailOnline can reveal.
Former Bank of England economist Jonathan Hoffman, 68, said he was terrified as he and fellow pro-Israel protesters were spat upon and assaulted in Whitehall – and thinks they would have been ‘lynched’ without the ring of police officers who moved into protect them.
Around 3,000 pro-Palestine protesters clashed with police during a demonstration against the explosion of violence in the Middle East.
Mr Hoffman was among a group of around a dozen pro-Israel friends who were set upon to as they launched a smaller counter-demonstration in which they unfurled the Israeli flag.
Police moved in to protect them and as they were being escorted away the disturbing attack happened.
A man was captured on video jumping from above with both feet aimed directly onto Mr Hoffman’s head and shoulders – an action which could have caused spinal injuries.
But Mr Hoffman, who was filming from a camera around his neck, said he only realised he had been jumped on two-footed when he saw the video on MailOnline this morning showing the man leaping into his group.
At one point, footage appears to show a demonstrator seemingly deliberately landing on top of two counter-protesters
Apparently jumping down from above the activist plants both feet on the back and neck of the two counter-protesters before being accosted by officers
Video shot by Mr Hoffman, who was wearing a camera around his neck at the time, shows the moment he crashes to the floor (pictured) after being landed on by a pro-Palestinian protestor
After being helped up by police and fellow demonstrators, who asked about his welfare after the incident, Mr Hoffman (pictured right) and other pro-Israel protesters were helped away by officers (pictured right)
Mr Hoffman was among a group of around a dozen pro-Israel friends who were set upon to as they launched a smaller counter-demonstration in which they unfurled the Israeli flag. Pictured: A group of pro-Israeli demonstrators in London yesterday
Why are violent clashes taking place in Jerusalem?
When did the protests start?
From the beginning of Ramadan in mid-April, Palestinians clashed nightly with Israeli police, who put up barriers to stop evening gatherings at the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate after iftar, the breaking of the daytime fast.
Palestinians saw the barriers as a restriction on their freedom to assemble. Police said they were there to maintain order.
Why did the violence flare up again?
An Israeli Supreme Court hearing was due on May 10 in a long-running legal case about whether several Palestinian families would be evicted and their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood near Damascus Gate that was given to Israeli settlers.
Some settlers have already moved into the street affected – living next door to the Palestinians facing possible removal.
As the court hearing neared, Palestinians and left-wing Israelis began holding larger demonstrations, saying more evictions could cause a domino effect throughout the overwhelmingly Palestinian neighbourhood.
Sheikh Jarrah also contains a site revered by religious Jews as the tomb of an ancient high priest, Simon the Just, leading to frequent tensions between Palestinian living there and religious Jews visiting it.
The case, in which a lower court ruled that the land in question belonged to Jews in East Jerusalem before the 1948 War, has gathered domestic and international attention, amid criticism of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.
On Sunday U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Israeli counterpart to express ‘serious concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,’ the White House said. read more
And United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed ‘his deep concern over the continuing violence in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as the possible evictions of Palestinian families from their homes,’ U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Sunday.
On Sunday the Supreme Court hearing on the evictions was postponed, pushing at least one flashpoint past the end of Ramadan and allowing more time for a resolution. A new session will be scheduled within 30 days. read more
Monday is Jerusalem Day, Israel’s annual commemoration of its capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. The event usually sees a march through the walled Old City by Jewish pilgrims, including ultra-nationalists, which could be another flashpoint.
Why is Jerusalem so sensitive?
Politics, history and religion.
At the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City is the hill known to Jews across the world as Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism – and to Muslims internationally as The Noble Sanctuary. It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity. Two Muslim holy places now stand there, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in Islam.
Christians also revere the city as the place where they believe that Jesus preached, died and was resurrected.
Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern section as a capital of a future state. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is unrecognized internationally.
A new second video shot by Mr Hoffman himself and obtained by Mail Online shows him stumbling to the ground.
Mr Hoffman’s own video captures him falling and he then is helped up by bystanders and an officer shouts to his colleagues to stop and ‘let him up, let him up.’
He told MailOnline: ‘It was a very scary time and the mob were calling us murderers, spitting at us and threatening us.
‘The police were absolutely superb in protecting us and put a cordon around us and took us to safety. The crowd were screaming at us and trying to attack us. But the police were great and helped us away.
‘I didn’t know that somebody had jumped on me until I saw MailOnline this morning. I thought I had fallen over.
‘I was very scared and thought I would be trampled or crushed in a stampede. I was helped up and I am told two girls from the anti-Israel protest helped.’
Mr Hoffman’s group had unveiled a banner which read: ‘If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.’
Palestinians carried banners pleading for the ‘siege’ of Israel to be ended and for the ‘occupation’ to be ended by Israel.
The demonstration in London, held opposite Downing Street, attracted thousands following recent protests in Jerusalem against the eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.
Asked if their decision to stage their London demonstration might have unfairly intimidated their rivals, Mr Hoffman said: ‘We have a democratic right to protest just like they have.
‘Ours was a peaceful protest and if it wasn’t for the police, we would have been lynched. There was so much hate against us. It was intolerable.’
Former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn attended the rally and told the crowd: ‘I’ve been horrified at the images on our screen from Al-Aqsa Mosque.
‘The way forward is this… the occupation must end, the settlements must be removed and Palestine must be recognised.’
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign announced another protest at the London Israeli Embassy this weekend
In a statement, it said: ‘We will be marching to the Israeli Embassy on Saturday to demand an end to Israel’s grave violations of human rights and international law. None of us are free until all of us are free.’
Yesterday, violence erupted in London as pro-Palestine protesters clashed with police during a demonstration against the continued conflict in the Middle East.
Activists waving flags, banners and placards, featuring messages including ‘Hands Off Jerusalem’, took to the streets of the English capital on Tuesday to call for an end to the growing unrest.
It comes as officials in Gaza said 32 Palestinians – including ten children – have been killed in the latest clashes in the Middle East.
The Israeli military claimed at least 16 of the dead were militants, while seven deaths have been attributed to the same family, including three children. Some may have been the result of errant Hamas missiles.
In Israel, three women have been killed – one in her 60s and another in her 80s – during Hamas rocket attacks earlier on Tuesday, and a third victim aged 50 on Tuesday evening when a rocket hit a building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion.
The renewed confrontation, following weeks of tensions and clashes in the contested Jerusalem, was sparked on Monday evening when Hamas – the Islamist group that rules inside Gaza – fired a barrage of missiles towards Jerusalem.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, former U.S. President Donald Trump posted to his website, saying that America ‘will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself’ as he criticised President Joe Biden over the growing crisis.
Earlier, the White House had said Biden was being briefed on the escalating situation.
Supporters of Palestine attend an emergency ‘Rally for Jerusalem’ outside 10 Downing Street yesterday
Huge crowds gathered to protest in the capital yesterday, with a large police presence also enforced
Former Labour Jeremy Corbyn was also in attendance, addressing thousands of demonstrators who gathered in the city.
A group of Neturei Karta Orthodox Jews joins a protest outside Downing Street against the escalation of violence
Israel’s Iron Dome defence system continued to struggle with the volume of rockets being fired from Gaza on Tuesday evening, after an Israeli air strike caused a 13-storey residential building to collapse in Gaza City.
And the mayor of the Israeli city of Lod called for army back-up to help secure the area, saying ‘civil war’ was breaking out as residents clashed following the funeral of an Arab man killed yesterday by a Jewish local.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier ‘deplored’ the deaths of the two women in Israel, adding that the country’s military would ‘further increase both the intensity and the rate’ of its own air strikes against Gaza.
‘Hamas will be hit in ways that it does not expect,’ Netanyahu said, before the announcement of the third woman’s death in Israel. ‘We have eliminated commanders, hit many important targets and we have decided to attack harder and increase the pace of attacks.’
The cross-border violence has been fuelled by Israel’s evictions of Muslim communities living in east Jerusalem which led to angry riots breaking out on Temple Mount over the weekend, with hundreds left injured on Monday as riot police shot rubber bullets and fired tear gas at protesters.
Pictured: Video footage from Tuesday evening showed three plumes of thick, black smoke rising from a Gaza residential block as it toppled over following an Israeli air strike. A large residential tower block in Gaza has collapsed today after one of several dozen Israeli cross-border air strikes on Tuesday night, as Hamas vowed to turn Israel into ‘a hell’
Pictured: People gather at the site of a collapsed building in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes on Gaza City on May 11, 2021. Hamas Islamists said they had fired 130 rockets towards Tel Aviv on Tuesday, unleashing a massive barrage on Israel’s economic hub, in retaliation for an Israeli strike on 12-storey tower near Gaza’s coast
Residents of the collapsed residential block and the surrounding area had been warned to evacuate the area around an hour before the air strike, according to witnesses, and there were no reports of casualties two hours after it collapsed.
Shortly after the attack, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group said they would respond by firing rockets at Tel Aviv, which they did.
Air raid sirens and explosions were heard around the city, and the skies were lit up by the streaks of multiple interceptor missiles launched towards the incoming rockets.
Pedestrians ran for shelter, and diners streamed out of Tel Aviv restaurants while others flattened themselves on pavements as the sirens sounded.
The Israel Airports Authority said it had halted take-offs at Tel Aviv airport ‘to allow defence of the nation’s skies’. Video broadcast on Israeli Channel 12 television showed interceptor missiles rising above the runways.
‘We are now carrying out our promise,’ Hamas’s armed wing said. ‘The Qassam Brigades are launching their biggest rocket strike against Tel Aviv and its suburbs, with 130 rockets, in response to the enemy’s targeting of residential towers.’
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