Thousands take part in pro-Palestinian march through London

Demonstrators told The National they wanted the UK to pressure Israel into calling off its military action in Gaza

Thousands take to London's streets in solidarity with Palestine

Thousands take to London's streets in solidarity with Palestine
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Thousands of people have taken part in a pro-Palestinian march through the centre of London.

More than 1,000 police officers were on duty for the demonstration, which is the second such protest following one last weekend.

The march began at Park Lane and made its way to Trafalgar Square before it was due to finish on Whitehall, near Parliament Square.

It took place as the UK’s Foreign Minister James Cleverly said he had spoken to the Israeli government about its duty to act in accordance with international law to preserve civilian lives in Gaza, and for its military to show restraint.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) claimed the event would be the "biggest march for Palestinian rights in British history" on Saturday.

A total of 10 people were arrested and five officers suffered minor injuries in relation to the demonstrations in London.

Protesters told The National they wanted the UK government to put pressure on Israel to call off its military action against Hamas.

A small group of protestors waved Palestinian flags as they walked outside the Israeli embassy, accompanied by a significant police escort.

Rayyan Salamah, whose family are originally from the occupied West Bank but who grew up in the UK, said he was on the march to “support my people”.

“The Israeli government have no mercy for the Palestinian people, they’re hitting residential areas where there’s no Hamas,” said the 16-year-old from Luton.

“There’s constant bombing of civilian areas and that should be condemned. I’m very concerned, that’s why I came here. I’m just out of college and there’s people of my age in Gaza being killed.

“The British government should condemn the Israeli government for what they’re doing and stop sending them support.”

Raisa Ahmed, 23, said she studied the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians at high school and university.

“I’m incredibly passionate about making people aware of what’s happening in the conflict and it’s really important to raise awareness,” she said.

She described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “despicable” adding: “I would love to see a ceasefire and I think that’s why everybody is here.”

Pasquale Testa, 60, said he was on the march “to send a message to the government that they shouldn’t give carte blanche to Israel to do what they want”.

“What they’re trying to do is genocide and I think what they want to do is to push all the Palestinians out of Gaza,” he said.

Mr Testa described himself as a “long-time supporter of Palestinian rights”.

“I don’t support Hamas at all but I do support Palestinian rights and Palestinian determination to have their own land.”

He said that western countries “bow to western demands” and added “you can’t criticise Israel without being accused of being anti-Semitic”.

The march was due culminate in a rally near Downing Street, at which a number of trade union leaders were expected to speak.

Before the march the UK government said demonstrators must be “free to peacefully express their views” and said police would “take the strongest action” where anti-Semitism and other forms of hate are promoted.

Marchers have a right to protest but should “be mindful” of the “fear and distress felt by many families in this country”, a Downing Street spokesman said.

Updated: October 21, 2023, 9:15 PM