In central London, hundreds of thousands of individuals gathered for a pro-Palestine march, vociferously calling for an end to the bombing in Gaza and an immediate ceasefire. According to the Metropolitan police, approximately 300,000 people participated in the demonstration, which spanned a 5km route from Hyde Park to the US embassy.
The “National March for Palestine” on Saturday marked the latest in a series of rallies in London expressing solidarity with the Palestinians following Israel’s air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in response to attacks by the Palestinian group Hamas on southern Israel starting October 7.
The march unfolded amidst clashes between right-wing counterprotesters and the police, following a contentious week of debate over whether to permit the pro-Palestinian event on Armistice Day. Armistice Day commemorates the end of World War I and honors those who lost their lives in military action. In response, police arrested 82 counterprotesters to prevent potential breaches of peace.
Objects were thrown at officers in the nearby Chinatown area, as reported by the Metropolitan Police on X (formerly Twitter). Reports from British media suggested the presence of Tommy Robinson, leader of the far-right English Defence League, among the counter-protesters. The situation prompted heightened security measures, with about 1,850 police officers, including personnel from various forces across Britain, deployed to maintain order. On Sunday, a national service of remembrance at The Cenotaph, led by King Charles III, senior royals, and political leaders, is expected to draw significant attention. The large police presence aims to ensure the peaceful conduct of both the pro-Palestine march and the national service amidst heightened tensions and the potential for clashes between opposing groups.