Around 20 pro-Palestinian demonstrators inside the Royal Albert Hall in London were greeted by boos and angry verbal confrontations on Thursday evening when they tried to disrupt a performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Several demonstrators began shouting when conductor Zubin Mehta stood up and prepared for Bruch's violin concerto in G minor. Several concert-goers at the BBC live broadcast then turned on the protesters with a volley of boos. The concert was being recorded live on BBC Radio 3, a classical music station. The broadcaster said it had to interrupt its live broadcast twice "as a result of sustained audience disturbance".
The protest had been organised by a group calling themselves the Palestine Solidarity Campaign; it wanted people to boycott the concert and the BBC to cancel the broadcast as it believes the orchestra has shown "complicity in whitewashing Israel's persistent violations of international law and human rights", according to its website.
The BBC Proms concert organisers tweeted, "approx 30 people were removed by security, increased in anticipation of the prospect of disturbances." The Proms organisers also stated their regret that the concert was taken off air following the hall disturbance but said they were "glad both pieces were heard by the audience in the Royal Albert Hall."
Security removed around 30 people from inside the hall. However, the protesters had positioned themselves at four different locations within the hall, so as one piece was disrupted by shouting and protesters removed, another group would disrupt another piece after concert goers believed the protesters had been removed, reports BBC News.
Some of the evicted protesters tried to continue their protest outside the hall but were met by a larger group of angry concert-goers and pro-Israeli groups who then clashed with verbal altercations and heated exchanges taking place. By the time the concert had finished and the audience streamed out the protesters had long gone.
Many concert goers also vented their anger at the disruption on Facebook, one "prommer", Tom Armstrong said, "It's really hypocritical, and also racist, attacking them just because they come from a country which is criticised for doing bad things (regardless of whether they support said 'bad things'. I doubt they would be protesting about a Chinese orchestra (over Tibet), or a Moroccan orchestra (over Western Sahara), etc."
The BBC said it would broadcast part of the concert on 7 September at 14:30 BST.