Thousands march in pro-Palestine rally in London

A pro-Israel counter-demonstration was held along the route

Pro-Palestine protesters in Westminster, in London, near the Parliament building. AP
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Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters marched in central London on Saturday, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign march went from Parliament Square to Hyde Park through Piccadilly and Pall Mall, as pro-Israel group Enough is Enough staged its demonstration in Pall Mall.

Speaking on stage at the end of the march, Palestinian ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said: “Change will come, campus by campus, city by city, country by country.

“The tide is turning because this is a global movement for change, a global assertion of popular power, of people’s power.”

Senior officers said they will police the rallies “without fear or favour” after a week in which London’s Metropolitan Police came under criticism after an officer referred to an activist with the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism as “openly Jewish”.

The protests come after a series of sit-ins and demonstrations at universities in the UK, Europe and US demanding academic institutions cut ties with Israel.

Protesters walked down Piccadilly towards Hyde Park and chanted “Stop bombing Gaza, stop bombing children”.

A series of placards were being displayed, including “Hand off Gaza colonisers” and “Free Palestine, smash the racists”.

Protesters in Hyde Park could be heard chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Two men were arrested, one for holding a placard with a swastika on it and another for an alleged racist remark towards counter-protesters, police said.

Assistant commissioner Matt Twist, who is responsible for public order policing, said “Our objectives this weekend are to police without fear or favour, to protect the right to protest and to keep the peace.

“All Londoners have a right to have their voices heard, just as they also have a right to go about their lives without fear and without being subject to serious disruption.

“The cumulative impact of almost seven months of protest is felt widely, but it has been a particular cause of fear and uncertainty in Jewish communities.

“While there has been a Jewish presence on many of the PSC marches, there are many more Jewish people who do not travel into the centre of London on protest days, or who avoid the tube, hide their identities or otherwise change their behaviour. It is a reality that should concern us all.”

A third protest by the CAA, whose chief executive Gideon Falter was the subject of the “openly Jewish” remarks, has been cancelled.

Previous Gaza rally in London – in pictures

Pro-Israel counter-demonstrations have taken place during three previous PSC marches.

“As mass graves of Palestinians are uncovered in Gaza, the call for an immediate ceasefire and for an end to weapons sales to Israel is now supported across the political mainstream and by huge swathes of the British public. Those marching know that they are on the right side of history,” PSC director Ben Jamal said.

University protests against Gaza war spread to UK

University protests against Gaza war spread to UK

The PSC march will be its 13th national protest since the first was staged on October 9.

The Met said policing protests since October 7 had cost about £38.4 million and required 44,722 officer shifts, as well as 6,399 officer rest days to be cancelled.

Before Saturday, there had been 415 arrests during protests, 193 of them for anti-Semitic offences.

Updated: April 27, 2024, 3:58 PM