About 300,000 protestors began marching in London around midday on 11 November, marking the largest protest in the city since 7 October according to the Metropolitan Police.
“The main pro-Palestinian march formed up about midday. It’s fair to say the march is absolutely enormous. It’s the biggest we’ve seen since the start of this period,” Met Police assistant commissioner Matt Twist told the BBC.
One protestor interviewed by the BBC said that he is protesting to demand a ceasefire.
“We want a ceasefire. People are suffering, children are dying under the rubble, and no one seems to care about them,” the man said.
Ninety-two ‘counter-protestors’ from right-wing groups have been arrested so far.
“You’re not English anymore,” the counter-protestors shouted at police.
Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the planned protests, coinciding with Armistice Day, “provocative and disrespectful.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman had also previously criticized pro-Palestine demonstrations, calling them “hate marches” and criticizing the chant “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free.”
Critics of the chant consider it to imply the erasure of Jews and Israel, while others have contended that it means a historic Palestine for Muslims, Christians, and Jews free from Israeli oppression and occupation.
Today’s protest comes following weeks of demonstrations in London and around the world calling for a ceasefire to hostilities.
The Conflict So Far
After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
Around 11, 025 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including at least 4,506 children — and over 27,000 others injured. Meanwhile at least 183 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and at least 2,200 have been injured.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been deescalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.
Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire.