More than 300,000 pro-Palestinian protesters marched through central London on Saturday. They marched from Hyde Park to the US Embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.
According to the BBC, the police also arrested almost a hundred far-right activists who opposed the demonstrators. Some of the arrested were armed with knives or batons and threw bottles or cannons at the police.
Demonstrators called for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and called on Israel to suspend attacks. Some carried banners reading “Free Palestine”, “Stop the carnage” and “Stop bombing Gaza”, reports Reuters.
Europe is divided on the issue of support for Israel
While the position of some EU states towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stems from “ancient” history, the position of others is more likely to be derived from the relations of current political leaders with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israeli territory, Western governments and many citizens have shown strong support and sympathy for Israel. But his military response has also sparked anger, with weekly protests calling for a ceasefire in London. The one on Saturday, the fourth in order, is considered to be the most extensive so far.
However, the march drew criticism from some politicians because it fell on the day when Britain commemorates the end of the First World War (so-called Armistice Day). Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the decision to hold the march on the important day disrespectful and some politicians even called for it to be cancelled.
“Veterans Weekend is a time for us as a nation to come together and remember those who fought and died for our freedoms. Today’s events, however, dishonor their memory,” wrote Sunak on the X social network.
Not far from the start of the march, several hundred people gathered in the streets for a commemorative event at a memorial commemorating British victims of both world wars.
Among them were several far-right opponents of the march who chanted slogans such as “We want our country back”. Television footage showed several small skirmishes between police and right-wing protesters just near the monument.
March organizers from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) promised that the march would avoid the memorial and end at the US embassy.
Today, pro-Palestinian demonstrations were also held in Brussels and Paris. About 21,000 people gathered in the capital of Belgium.
Among the 16,000 protesters in the French capital were several left-wing politicians who called for a cease-fire in Gaza. French President Emmanuel Macron also called for this today. “We call on Israel to stop bombing Gaza,” he said in an extraordinary interview with the BBC.