On Saturday, police apprehended two individuals following a large gathering of pro-Palestinian protesters in central London. The demonstrators were calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The march organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which has arranged several demonstrations in reaction to the escalating conflict in Gaza, was captured by aerial footage showing a significant number of people participating.
It is estimated that up to 100,000 individuals participated in the protests, while there were also counter-demonstrations occurring in Whitehall.
According to reports, a large group of individuals who were against a ceasefire gathered at the Cenotaph with union flags, provoking chants of disapproval from the pro-Palestinian marchers.
Occasionally, the protest turned into a physical altercation. A male individual was apprehended on Whitehall for assaulting an officer, who was then transported to a hospital. Another person was taken into custody on Waterloo Road for allegedly committing a racially motivated public disturbance and issuing death threats.
Journalists also saw police officers detaining an individual near Downing Street before protesters started getting into altercations with them.
As stated by PA, individuals engaged in physical altercations by throwing punches and kicks, prompting officers to instruct the protestors to disperse. Subsequently, one individual was forced to the ground and removed from the area while other demonstrators chanted “let him go.”
Shouts of “Allahu Akbar”, the phrase in Arabic meaning “God is great”, were also heard.
Police have been granted stop and search authority in the City of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea until midnight under Section 60 and Section 60AA.
Section 60 AA stipulates that individuals must remove any potential items that could be utilized to hide their identity, including masks.
The audience controversially chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, referencing the land between the Mediterranean and River Jordan. Suella Braverman recently stated that the chant is commonly interpreted as a call for the destruction of Israel, a viewpoint shared by many Jewish organizations. However, pro-Palestinian activists argue that the slogan represents the desire for all Palestinians to have access to freedom, equality, and justice.
According to reports, other chants were heard, such as “End the supply of weapons to Israel. Stop the bombings in Gaza” and “We stand in solidarity with Palestine.”
A protester named Chrif El Amraoui expressed his emotions to the BBC, shedding tears over the daily deaths of innocent children. He questioned why more lives are being taken.
Abdul Mahfuudi, who was accompanied by his children at the demonstration, also shared with the BBC: “Our top priority is for them to cease the violence against children. It must end.”
The United Kingdom has not yet requested a cessation of fighting, but the government led by Rishi Sunak is promoting temporary pauses in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in Gaza.
The approach is supported by the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, despite facing opposition from around 25% of his MPs who are urging for a ceasefire.
On Friday, the Israel Defence Forces announced that their air and ground forces were intensifying their actions in Gaza, making it the most intense day of bombing since the start of the war.
The Israeli Defense Forces have reported that approximately 100 jets successfully targeted 150 Hamas targets underground during the overnight operation. Additionally, internet and mobile services have been largely disconnected since Friday evening.
The UN general assembly has requested a prompt and lasting ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Friday. They have also demanded unrestricted access for aid to the Gaza Strip, which is currently under siege.
Out of the 120 nations that voted, the UK was one of 45 countries that chose to abstain from the motion. On the other hand, 14 nations, including the US and Israel, voted against the motion.
Despite a worsening situation, demonstrators have once again gathered in the streets in hopes of pressuring the UK government to advocate for a ceasefire.
According to Sisters Uncut, a group of activists, over 200 individuals participated in a sit-in on the concourse of London Waterloo station, chanting “ceasefire now”.
Over 1,000 officers from the Met Police were present during the protest as announced on X.
On X, the Met stated that hate crime has no place in London.
Police will act promptly and decisively in response to any criminal activity they witness, but there may be incidents that go unnoticed at the time.
“We will also be examining CCTV footage and visual media provided by the public in order to identify any potential offenses.”
Protests have also been arranged in other parts of the United Kingdom for Saturday, such as in Manchester and Glasgow.
A demonstration was scheduled to occur in the center of Bristol on Sunday, and the Avon and Somerset police anticipated a crowd of 2,000 to 5,000 attendees.
PA was a contributor to this report.