London, Nov 11 (EFE).- Hundreds of thousands of people were demonstrating in central London on Saturday to show their support for the Palestinian people and to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The London Metropolitan Police (Met) has deployed extra officers to prevent any clashes and has set up a perimeter around Whitehall, where many government institutions and offices are based.
The protesters began marching from London’s Hyde Park heading towards the United States Embassy, where they will urge Israel to halt its bombing campaign.
The peace march has been organized by several groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Stop the War Coalition, the UK Muslim Association, the UK Palestine Forum and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
The demonstrators were carrying Palestinian flags and signs with messages such as “Free Palestine”, “End the siege”, and “Biden, stop arming Israel”.
Organizers expect more than 500,000 people to join the protest, one of the largest to take place in the UK capital in recent years.
The march calling for a ceasefire in Gaza was being held on the same day that the UK marks Armistice Day, held to commemorate the end of World War 1. The rally also comes a day before the UK marks Remembrance Sunday, which honors those from the UK and the Commonwealth who died in battle.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak this week had urged police to ban the pro-Palestinian march amid concerns the demonstrators could march near the Cenotaph war memorial on Whitehall.
The Met, however, said the rally could go ahead as there were no grounds to prohibit it.
Sunak has resisted calls to sack Home Secretary Suella Braverman, after she said it was “unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London”, comments that have been widely criticized by the Labour opposition, military leaders and members of her own Conservative Party.
Braverman was accused by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims of “fanning the flames of hate” towards Muslims, of fueling “hatred and division” and of “inspiring far-right groups” following her remarks.
As the pro-Palestine march was getting underway, a small group of far-right supporters carrying flags with the cross of St. George, patron saint of England, and chanting “English ‘til I die” tried to break through security barriers set up in Whitehall in an attempt to reach the Cenotaph, leading to brief clashes with police.
Health authorities in Gaza say that more than 11,000 people – the majority women, children and the elderly – have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in just over a month since Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the enclave, launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on Oct. 7, in which 1,200 people were killed and around 240 were taken hostage. EFE