Thousands Join Pro-Palestinian Protests across UK

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Clarion India

LONDON – Protesters have joined rallies in dozens of UK towns and cities across the country to call for an end to Israeli attacks in Gaza, reported BBC.

Many held a minute’s silence.

Videos on social media showed protesters in Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow waving Palestinian flags and calling for a “ceasefire now”.

In London’s Piccadilly Circus, three people were arrested including one for displaying a placard that could incite hatred, the Metropolitan police said.

The other two were held for a public order offence and assaulting a police officer, the force added.

Pro-Palestinian protests have been held in London, and other cities globally, each Saturday since war began last month.

One of the protest organisers, Stop the War coalition, said this weekend would see a series of local protests organised in neighbourhoods, town and cities across the UK, rather than a mass rally.

In London, local protests took place before thousands of demonstrators merged in Trafalgar Square for a rally, led by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. Thousands more gathered in Manchester.

Earlier in the northern city, the North West Friends of Israel group held a vigil for the hostages taken in the Hamas attacks on 7 October.

Red heart-shaped balloons were attached to each of the hostages’ names and photos in Manchester’s Exchange Square.

Other pro-Palestinian rallies are also being held in Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Liverpool and Leeds, with a focus on calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday there would be no temporary ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza until all Israeli hostages were released.

In contrast to this weekend’s smaller-scale protests, there are plans for a mass rally next Saturday on Armistice Day which have been criticised by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as “provocative and disrespectful”.

He pointed to a risk that war memorials, including the Cenotaph in central London, could be “desecrated”.

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman said on X, formerly Twitter, that it was “entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London”.

On Remembrance Sunday, which this year falls on 12 November, thousands of servicemen and women usually march past the Cenotaph as senior politicians and royals lay poppy wreaths to remember the fallen.

London’s Metropolitan Police said it was planning a “significant” policing and security operation for next weekend.

Both the Met and the march’s organisers say the demonstrators have no intention of going near Whitehall, where the Cenotaph is located.

Ben Jamal, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said all of their protests had been peaceful and orderly, and to suggest that another one – well away from Whitehall – “was a disrespect to the war dead was an insult to those marching for peace”.

Israel has been bombarding Gaza with prolonged air strikes following the 7 October attacks on southern Israel by Hamas.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israeli air strikes have killed more than 9,000 people.

Protests in London have been largely peaceful, although 99 people were arrested at the three previous massive weekly marches in London.

BBC reporters, who witnessed the demonstrations, said a wide range of people from different backgrounds, including lots of families with children, have attended the marches.

On Friday, five people were arrested during a pro-Palestinian sit-in at London’s King’s Cross station after the demonstration was banned.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he had given an order to allow police to stop the protest.

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