Thousands march through London in pro-Palestine rally to demand a ceasefire

Police had banned protesters from gathering outside the Israeli embassy

Demonstrators held sit-down protests in central London before gathering in Trafalgar Square on Saturday. AFP
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Thousands of people marched through London on Saturday demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

The demonstration came as Israel's military intensified its assault against Hamas.

Large crowds gathered across the capital, holding sit-down protests at Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, before marching to gather in Trafalgar Square.

Protesters also gathered for a sit-in at Charing Cross station, which is near Trafalgar Square, on Saturday evening.

Protesters held “Freedom for Palestine” placards and chanted “ceasefire now” and “in our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians”.

Earlier the police had taken measures to prevent protesters from gathering outside the Israeli embassy.

London's Metropolitan Police said officers had made three arrests. In a post on X, police said one person was arrested for displaying a placard that could incite hate, contrary to terrorism legislation.

Britain has supported Israel's right to defend itself after the Hamas militant group killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 hostages in an attack on October 7 in southern Israel.

On Friday, British police said they were working with pro-Palestinian protesters to prevent unrest over the war in Gaza from disrupting Remembrance Day commemorations next weekend.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, writing in the Times, said the lines between pro-Palestinian protesters and “those who support the brutal terrorism of Hamas” have become “badly blurred”.

Sir Ephraim highlighted a Manchester protest with a banner showing support for “Palestinian resistance” and said there was no ambiguity in the words used.

“Did every person who attended that march truly wish to associate themselves with acts of such barbarity? I sincerely hope that they did not,” he wrote.

“Nevertheless, it could not be clearer that, at the very least, the lines between those who wish only to advocate for the welfare of innocent Palestinians and those who support the brutal terrorism of Hamas have become badly blurred.

“It is imperative that we redraw these lines of moral clarity without delay.”

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has also responded to concerns from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman about the prospect of pro-Palestine protests on Armistice Day.

Ms Braverman warned protesters against damaging the Cenotaph - a war memorial in central London - a week before the annual Remembrance Day services.

She said any protesters found to have vandalised the Cenotaph should be "put into a jail cell faster than their feet can touch the ground".

Mr Sunak said such a move would be “provocative and disrespectful”, amid reports that tens of thousands of demonstrators are planning to take to the streets to call for an immediate ceasefire on November 11.

Demonstration organisers have pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph war memorial – the focus of national remembrance events – is located.

Sir Mark, in a letter to Mr Sunak, said: “Like you, I recognise the profound significance of Armistice Day and the events that take place across the weekend in central London and in communities across London.

“We will take a robust approach and yesterday I set out our intent to use all the powers available to the [Metropolitan Police], including putting in place conditions, if required, to ensure events in Whitehall and the surrounding areas as well as other locations of significance across London are not undermined.”

Ms Braverman, writing on X, described any such protest as a “hate march”.

Updated: November 04, 2023, 7:42 PM