Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched in central London on Saturday to demand the British government call for a ceasefire after Israel’s military widened its air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Aerial footage showed large crowds setting off on the march organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, with the protest due to end outside the Houses of Parliament after passing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street office.
Echoing Washington’s stance, Sunak’s government has stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, and instead advocated humanitarian pauses to allow aid to reach people in Gaza.
Britain has supported Israel’s right to defend itself after an Oct. 7 attack by militant group Hamas that Israel said had killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
“The superpowers at play are not doing enough at the moment. This is why we’re here: we’re calling for a ceasefire, calling for Palestinian rights, the right to exist, to live, human rights, all our rights,” said protester Camille Revuelta.
This is not about Hamas. This is about protecting Palestinian lives,” she added.
London police have faced criticism in recent days for not being tougher over slogans shouted by some protesters during another pro-Palestinian march in the capital last week, which drew about 100,000 people. That protest was mostly peaceful with only a handful of arrests.
Ahead of Saturday’s event, police warned there was no place for hate crime and said 2,000 officers would be on duty across the city. Special restrictions were in place restricting protests around the Israeli Embassy.
Earlier, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged those taking part in pro-Palestinian protests to be wary of disinformation and manipulation.
When asked by a reporter if there was a risk of Iran or other foreign actors hijacking protests to stoke unrest, Cleverly said: “It is perfectly possible to support the Palestinian people but also to condemn Hamas.”
“But sadly we do see people being manipulated, subjected to disinformation, distortion and sadly, I do think that a minority, a small minority, within those protests have got very much more negative aims.”
Phòtòs Stavri Kay