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Pro-Palestinian protesters take to the streets with a million expected to join march to London’s US Embassy as they demand that Israel stop bombing Gaza
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Thousands of people set off marching from Hyde Park in London today as part of a huge demonstration in solidarity with the people of Palestine as they called for an immediate ceasefire.
The march, which coincides with Armistice Day, will head towards the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.
Chants of ‘free Palestine’ and ‘ceasefire now’ could be heard as the protesters set off, with police saying those gathered had so far been peaceful with no incidents reported.
This was in stark contrast to a march by thugs led by the far-right figure Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, which has seen repeated clashes with officers and missiles thrown at police.
Tens of thousands could be seen marching through the streets carrying banners which read ‘free Palestine’, as some protesters let off flares.
At Trafalgar Square, Extinction Rebellion placed hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes as they joined calls for an immediate ceasefire to protect citizens’ lives. Meanwhile in Scotland, dozens of protesters participated in a ‘die-in’ in Glasgow.
The march, which coincides with Armistice Day, will head towards the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames
Tens of thousands of people have turned up on the streets of London on Saturday
Some of those attending the march held effigies of dead babies as they called for a ceasefire
Protesters hold flares during a pro-Palestinian protest in London on Saturday
Videos shared on social media showed full coaches of people heading to London
A right-wing protester is seen appearing to assault a pro-Palestine protester as a second attempts of intervene
A pro-Palestinian supporter clashes with a right-wing protester in London
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In London many protesters were carrying Palestinian flags while others clutched placards emblazoned with slogans such as ‘hands of al Aqsa’, ‘end Israeli apartheid’ and ‘end the siege’ and ‘baby killer Biden stop arming Israel’.
READ MORE: Met get tough: Police surround screaming thugs and arrest suspects carrying knives and batons after missiles rained down on officers – as they warn anyone who attacks London pro-Palestinian demo will be locked up
Videos on social media showed protesters holding hands as they walked through the city in a show of peace.
A little girl waved at passing protesters out of a third-storey window on Vauxhall Bridge Road, pressing a drawing of a Palestinian flag up against the glass.
The crowd could be heard chanting ‘in our thousands in our millions we are all Palestinians’.
They also shouted ‘Rishi Sunak’s a wasteman’ and ‘Rishi Sunak, shame on you. Keir Starmer, shame on you.’
It came as British Transport Police introduced restrictions to planned protest events in major London stations.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he granted consent for transport police to make orders banning protests at three London railway stations so that people can travel ‘free from intimidation’.
He said in a statement: ‘Armistice Day is a moment of solemn national reflection in remembrance of those who have given their lives in service of our country. It’s important that people can use our rail network to safely travel, free from intimidation.
‘That’s why I have granted consent for the British Transport Police to make orders under Section 14A of the Public Order Act 1986 prohibiting planned protests at various London stations today, meaning anyone taking part will be subject to arrest.
‘I will always back the British Transport Police to use their powers to keep people safe and I am grateful to their officers, especially those who are on duty today.
‘While the right to peaceful protest is a key part of our democratic society, it cannot be at the expense of other people’s right not to be seriously disrupted or intimidated.’
Previous marches in support of Palestine have been largely peaceful as activists call for an immediate ceasefire to protect the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians – a call echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron last night.
But there are fears Tommy Robinson’s supporters intend on confronting pro-Palestine protesters and stir up trouble after multiple clashes with police officers.
An Armistice Day service took place at the Cenotaph on Whitehall at 11am, which passed off peacefully with a two-minute silence being observed.
The Met Police posted on X, formerly Twitter: ‘While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter-protesters who are in the area in significant numbers.’
The force added that it ‘will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent’ the counter-protesters from confronting the main march.
On Saturday afternoon, police began arresting some right-wing protesters as they pursued groups heading towards the main march.
Leaders of the Palestine demonstration claimed entire fleets of coaches were driving to the capital.
The coalition of groups behind the march include the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
People gather in Hyde Park ahead of the beginning of today’s march
A man walks with a Palestinian flag in central London as he joins tens of thousands of people marching through the capital
People participate in the Pro-Palestinian march in London, Britain, 11 November 2023
The Met Police said the march got off to a peaceful start with no reported incidents of violence
Protesters gather with placards and flags for the ‘National March For Palestine’ in central London on November 11
A group of Jewish people joined pro-Palestine protests in central London today
People take part in a die-in ahead of a Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration in Glasgow
Many of those participating in Glasgow’s ‘die-in’ held banners or Palestinian flags
The Palestinian health authority run by terror group Hamas says that more than 11,000 people, including 4,500 children, have so far been killed in Israeli retaliation since their gunmen launched an unprecedented assault on the nation, killing at least 1,400 people.
On Saturday morning it was reported that Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, had completely shutdown operations after running out of fuel. It is feared dozens of people may die as a result.
What is ‘intifada’?
Intifada is a term commonly used in association with Palestinians and the state of Israel. It means uprising or rebellion.
There have been two famous intifadas, or uprisings, against Israel in Palestine.
The first in the late 1980s saw peaceful actions such as mass boycotts and some more violent attacks on Israelis.
The second, which grew out of the 2000 peace process, was far more violent and involved Palestinian tactics such as suicide bombings and rocket attacks.
Around 1,000 Israelis and 3,200 Palestinians were killed by the time peace returned in 2005.
It was claimed on Saturday that a coach firm in the north of England has had its entire 250-strong bus fleet booked out this weekend to ferry people down to London to participate in the Gaza protest.
Speaking to the Today programme on Saturday morning, head of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Ben Jamal said organisers were expecting up to a million people to descend on the streets of London.
Mr Jamal said: ‘We are on the brink of a major catastrophe [in Gaza]. People are marching peacefully calling for an end to this. We live in a really topsy-turvy world where people marching for peace are being defined by our PM and our Home Sec as extremists and hate speakers.’
He accused her of whipping up fear, saying the PSC had been clear with police weeks ago that they did not plan to disrupt Armistice Day events: ‘It is inconceivable unless she doesn’t speak to the police that she didn’t know that when she made her remarks.
‘She has described that what is going to be happening today as thousands of people as hate speakers, extremists, marching to Whitehall to desecrate the cenotaph.’
He added that statements by the Home Secretary which have referred to the marches as ‘hate marches’ are ‘absolutely disgraceful and demonstrate her own unfitness for office.’
Mr Jamal also accused authorities of ‘reframing language’ to suggest people mentioning ‘intifada’ care calling for a violent uprising, something he says is not the case.
‘Intifada doesn’t mean a violent uprising. This is an attempt to reframe language. Intifada is a word that means shaking off it is a word that means shaking off and standing against military occupation.’
He added that he has not seen or heard of a single placard advocating support of Hamas.
People during a pro-Palestinian protest in London, marching from Hyde Park to the US embassy in Vauxhall
Demonstrators attend a protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza in London
Early on Saturday people took to social media to show coaches full of protesters heading to London
People march in Hyde Park to support Palestine amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza
A sign is seen on the top deck of a London bus carrying the controversial slogan: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’
Aerial view showing pro-Palestine protests in Central London today at 12.21pm
Elsewhere during the march a woman defended carrying a sign that says ‘Netanyahu Hitler would be proud’ at the pro-Palestine rally in central London.
The woman, who did not give her name, was holding the placard in Hyde Park and the other side of the sign says: ‘In Auschwitz there is a plaque that says ‘those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ – George Santayana. Israel it’s clearly showing.’
The woman, who said she had visited Auschwitz, defended the comparison between the Nazi leader and Israel’s prime minister, telling the PA news agency: ‘At the end of the day we have put it in a way to compare both leaders. I think it’s a pretty fair comparison.
‘At the end of the day let’s keep it to the facts, Hitler, what he did was outcasted people, he killed them…
‘Netanyahu’s doing the same thing, even if you listen to the things he said so outright like trying to flatten Palestine.’
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