Tens of thousands march in London calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza
LONDON (AP) — A protester was arrested Saturday in London on suspicion of inciting racial hatred, as tens of thousands of people turned out on central London’s streets for a pro-Palestinian march calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.
The National March for Palestine, which aimed to finish in Whitehall, central London, was the latest in several huge protests staged in the British capital every weekend since the Israel-Hamas war began last month.
Saturday’s protests came on the second day of a four-day cease-fire that has allowed critical humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and given civilians their first respite after seven weeks of war.
The Metropolitan Police said it arrested a man on suspicion of inciting racial hatred “near the start of the protest.”
“Officers spotted him carrying a placard with Nazi symbols on it,” police said.
Officers handed out leaflets at the march that sought to clarify what would be deemed an offence, after the force faced pressure from senior government officials to be tougher on alleged displays of antisemitism at the protests.
“Anyone who is racist or incites hatred against any group should expect to be arrested. As should anyone who supports Hamas or any other banned organisation,” said Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Ade Adelekan.
“We will not tolerate anyone who celebrates or promotes acts of terrorism – such as the killing or kidnap of innocent people – or who spreads hate speech,” he added.
The force said 1,500 officers were deployed to police the march.
Earlier this month the UK’s former interior minister, Suella Braverman, came under heavy criticism when she described pro-Palestinian protesters as “hate marchers.” Critics accused her of inflaming tensions, and she was sacked by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak soon after.
In Paris, a march staged for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women drew both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists as well as other groups.
Some protesters, waving Palestinian flags and posters reading “Free Palestine,” walked in a show of solidarity with “Gaza and Palestine’s women who are being murdered.”
A group of Jewish women also joined the march to denounce crimes committed by Hamas, including rapes and killings, chanting, “We are women, we are proud, we are Jewish and we are angry.”
Meanwhile, some pro-Palestinian protests were organised over the weekend in France’s major cities including Strasbourg, Lyon and Marseille.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the Islamist group, also protested Saturday outside the Egyptian Embassy in London. Tens of thousands of people are also expected to take part in a march organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism charity on Sunday to show solidarity with the Jewish community in the UK.