Far-right protesters clash with police before demonstration in the British capital.
Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered in central London and begun marching in solidarity with Palestine chanting “Stop bombing Gaza” and “Ceasefire now”.
The “National March for Palestine” on Saturday is the latest in a series of rallies in the British capital to show support for the Palestinians since Israel launched an air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip following Palestinian group Hamas’s attacks on southern Israel on October 7.
The Hamas assault killed around 1,200 Israelis, and saw more than 240 taken captive.
Israel’s attacks, which it has said are aimed at wiping out the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, have killed more than 11,000 people in 34 days, including more than 4,500 children.
Former British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and member of Parliament for Islington also took part in the pro-Palestine rally and demanded a ceasefire.
Ceasefire now. pic.twitter.com/zGe3pCtR9R
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 11, 2023
The UK government’s ministers had called for Saturday’s march to be cancelled because it falls on Armistice Day, which marks the end of World War I and commemorates those killed in military action.
On Wednesday, British Prime Rishi Sunak told reporters that he would hold the Metropolitan police commissioner accountable for safety since the police official defied demands to ban the pro-Palestine protests on Armistice Day.
A few hours before the protest began on Saturday morning, a mile (1.6km) away from the start of the march, about 1,000 people lined the streets to watch the remembrance events at the Cenotaph war memorial.
Among the crowd, some right-wing counter-protesters opposed to the pro-Palestinian march chanted messages including, “We want our country back”.
The Metropolitan police said even their officers “faced aggression from counter-protesters” who were in the Whitehall area while the two minutes silence for Armistice Day was being marked.
“The scenes of disorder we witnessed by the far-right at the Cenotaph are a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words. The police’s job has been made much harder,” the mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a post on X.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently called pro-Palestinian demonstrations “hate marches” and said the police “play favourites” and take a soft stance towards rallies in support of Gaza.
“The Met have my full support to take action against anyone found spreading hate and breaking the law,” Khan’s post added.
The scenes of disorder we witnessed by the far-right at the Cenotaph are a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words. The police’s job has been made much harder.
The Met have my full support to take action against anyone found spreading hate and breaking the law.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) November 11, 2023