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Jewish paper 'sorry' for aid ad

The Jewish Chronicle has apologised to readers angered by its decision to run an advert appealing for funds to help the child victims of Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

More than £9 million was raised by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) drive in its first week, partly thanks to full-page promotions in a number of newspapers.

It aims to split the money between 13 aid charities to try to bolster much-needed humanitarian work.

More than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, are reported killed in the war which broke out last month with casualties numbering 67 on the Israeli side, of whom 64 were soldiers.

A five-day ceasefire appears to be holding, raising cautious hopes that Israel / Hamas negotiations in Egypt might bring an end to the violence.

But the appearance in the Chronicle of the ad - which featured a picture of a young Palestinian boy and said thousands more were "injured, homeless and living in fear" - sparked anger from some readers.

The quantity of complaints received and anger expressed online was sufficient for the newspaper to issue a statement on its Facebook page saying: "We apologise for the upset caused".

Including the ad was " meant as a purely humanitarian gesture" and was "not an expression of the JC's views", it said.

It said readers would be given space to air their objections in the next edition, which would also include free advertising " encouraging readers to donate to a range of charities supporting Israel".

A large majority of the comments posted to the statement were critical of the decision to apologise.

Editor Stephen Pollard said he understood the anger but pointed out that advertising decisions were kept entirely separate from editorial and that the ad was approved by chairman Stephen Grabiner.

The advert was neither political nor partisan, he insisted

Coverage in the paper showed that it was "entirely supportive" of Israel's Operation Protective Edge and was "almost alone" in making the case for self-defence in the UK media.

While there was "clearly a humanitarian cost" to the action, he disputed the figures given elsewhere for civilian casualties , insisting that " many are, I am sure, terrorists".

"Even if you profoundly disagree with the ad appearing in the paper, I hope this will go some way to explaining its presence and that it is in no way part of our editorial stance."

Disorder broke out during a protest related to the conflict in Hodge Hill, Birmingham, and one person was arrested on suspicion of assaulting police.

West Midlands Police said on Twitter: "Our officers dealt with a protest at Tesco, Hodge Hill this morning where some disorder was reported. One arrested for assaulting police

"Protest was largely peaceful among the 100 protesters but some began throwing stock inside Tesco store. Two escorted from premises."

A protest in Manchester also saw "minor disruption", police said, with one man arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

A spokesman for Tesco said: "The demonstration took place mainly outside the store. There was some minimal damage to a few goods inside - police were on the scene and the store reopened after being closed for just a few minutes."

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