London, Nov. 11 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched through central London on Saturday following clashes between far-right protesters and police to prevent clashes.
The pro-Palestinian march drew counter-protesters from right-wing groups on Armistice Day, which marks the end of the First World War and includes commemorations of Britain’s war dead.
The “National March for Palestine” is the latest in a series to show support for the Palestinians and call for a cease-fire against Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The Ministers insisted that it should be canceled as it was Armistice Day.
Far-right groups opposing the march said they were in “significant numbers” in central London, leading to clashes with authorities in Parliament and Westminster, near the Cenotaph war memorial.
Officers in riot gear tried to control far-right protesters, some of whom threw bottles at them, and police vehicles rushed around the city to respond to reports of tensions in the streets.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Scotland’s First Minister Hamza Yousaf accused Home Secretary Suella Braverman of emboldening the far-right after accusing the police of supporting “pro-Palestinian gangs”.
“The scenes of disorder we witnessed by the far-right at Cenotaph are a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words,” Khan said on social media.
Police said the pro-Palestinian rally had a “very large” turnout and no related incidents. They said they would not allow the two groups to meet.
“We will use all the powers and tactics at our disposal to prevent that from happening,” the police said.
Ben Jamal, one of the organizers of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), told Reuters that up to a million people could join the rally. He said it would be peaceful, but acknowledged that “the situation today is heightened.”
As they gathered at the starting point, pro-Palestinian protesters could be heard chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a chant seen by many Jews as anti-Semitic and a call for Israel’s abolition.
Others carried banners reading “Free Palestine”, “Stop the carnage” and “Stop the Gaza bombing”.
Police said nearly 2,000 officers would be on duty to prevent disorder, and an unprecedented 24-hour police guard has been put in place at the cemetery since Thursday.
Pro-Palestinian march ends at US Embassy
“Here in London, as we do around the world, the United States supports the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” an embassy spokeswoman said.
Since the October 7 attack by Hamas in southern Israel, there has been strong support and sympathy for Israel from Western governments, including Britain, and many citizens. But the Israeli military response has also sparked anger, with weekly protests in London calling for a ceasefire.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who criticized a pro-Palestinian rally on Armistice Day as disrespectful, came under pressure from his own lawmakers to fire Braverman following his comments about the police.
Reporting by Michael Holden, Hannah McKay, Hollie Adams, Ben Makori, Will Russell, Natalie Thomas, Alishia Abodunde, Yann Tessier and Dylan Martinez Editing by Sarah Young Editing by Ed Osmond and Helen Popper
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