300,000 protesters attend London pro-Palestine march

300,000 protesters attend London pro-Palestine march
Thousands of people marched through London on Saturday, calling for a Gaza war ceasefire. The route was changed to avoid memorials, starting at The Cenotaph War Memorial.
3 min read
11 November, 2023
Protesters waved black, red, white and green Palestinian flags and held aloft placards proclaiming "Stop Bombing Gaza" [Getty]

About 300,000  people marched through the British capital on Saturday, as pro-Palestinian supporters made a new call for a Gaza war ceasefire.

The march set off after a two-minute silence was observed at The Cenotaph war memorial in central London to mark Armistice Day, Britain's annual commemoration of its war dead. 

March organisers had changed the route from Hyde Park to the US Embassy in south London to ensure it will not pass any landmark memorials.

The London police said about 300,000 were estimated to be taking part.

Protesters waved black, red, white and green Palestinian flags and held aloft placards proclaiming "Stop Bombing Gaza".

There have been weekly rallies in London since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 239 people taken hostage, according to Israel.

The Israeli air and ground military campaign in response has killed over 11,000 people, including over 4,500 children and 3,000 women.

Shouts of "free Palestine", "ceasefire now" and "Israel is a terror state" rang out from the London protest.

"Forget the political stance, forget everything else, you can't stand around while people are getting killed," Shiraz Bobra, 41, who travelled from Leicester, central England, told AFP. He added that he would come every week until a ceasefire was enforced.

Gavin Searle, a 58-year-old television director from Hastings in south England, said he had come "to show solidarity with the Palestinians when there's a massive injustice taking place."

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Roman Catholic priest Father John McGowan added: "I feel for the Palestinians because their land is occupied and their occupiers can be cruel" and said he hoped for a two-state solution.

Minor scuffles broke out before the protest took place, as  counter-protesters by far right groups - many dressed in black with their faces covered, and some waving England's St George's flag and the Union Jack - tried to break through police lines.

Police said that they had arrested 82 counter-protestors in order to "prevent a breach of the peace", saying they "tried to reach the main protest march.

"We will continue to take action to avoid the disorder that would likely take place if that happened," added the statement.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, leading the police operation, has said counter-protesters were likely to include football hooligans, and police were "likely" to have to use force at some point against "pockets of confrontation".

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, an increasingly outspoken right-winger, has done little to quell tensions, by accusing police of being more sympathetic to so-called left-wing protests than others.

The  Conservative government was also at odds with the Met Police this week, with ministers calling for the pro-Palestine march to be banned.

Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said the request did not meet the threshold for a rare government order to stop the protest from going ahead.