The Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall in London, Britain, 06 November 2023. EFE/EPA/ANDY RAIN

London Police to shield city center from pro-Palestinian march on WWI remembrance weekend

London, Nov 10 (EFE).- The London Metropolitan Police announced Friday that it will have a “significant policing operation” and create an “exclusion zone” around the Cenotaph monument and other parts of central London to prevent disturbances during the pro-Palestine march planned for Saturday, which coincides with Remembrance weekend events.

The Met is under pressure from the government to ensure that both Armistice Day, which takes place on Saturday to commemorate the end of World War I, and Remembrance Sunday, when politicians and royals lay wreaths at the Cenotaph in honor of servicemen and women who died in battle, are not marred by the demonstration.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wanted to block the march, fearing protesters would vandalize the cenotaph and called the pro-Palestinian Armistice Day protest “provocative and disrespectful.”

But the Met ruled out vetoing the march, saying there was no legal basis for doing so.

Instead, Scotland Yard outlined on Friday in a press release some details of its security operation, which will involve 1,850 officers on Saturday and another 1,375 on Sunday.

These include 24-hour surveillance of the Cenotaph monument from Thursday until Sunday and an exclusion zone around it and “Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, the Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance and other relevant areas” – although protest organizers have insisted they do not plan to approach this area.

Protesters will also be prevented from approaching the US and Israeli embassies, and “smaller groups” attempting to break away from the main protest will be dispersed.

The Met has also said it is working with other forces outside London to prevent convoys of cars traveling to London from elsewhere in the UK from passing through areas where Jewish communities live, as in previous years convoys with occupants “waving flags and shouting anti-Semitic abuse” have caused “significant concern, fear and upset.”

The march being organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which could gather half a million people, will run between Hyde Park and the US Embassy .

Although previous pro-Palestine demonstrations have been peaceful so far, police say that “small groups” who “break away from planned events” have led to “more than 100 arrests for offences including supporting proscribed organizations and serious hate crime.”

Scotland Yard also fear that violence could erupt between radical and far-right groups, citing “concerns that counter protesters may be intending to confront those taking part in the main protest march.”

London is home to large Jewish and Arab communities, and tensions over the Israel-Hamas conflict have risen in Britain after both the Conservative government and Labour opposition leader Keir Starmer – unlike some of his MPs – refused to call for a cease-fire in Gaza, citing Israel’s right to self-defense.

On Thursday, Home Office minister Suella Braverman published an unauthorized article in The Times of London accusing the police of a double standard, treating left-wing marches more leniently than right-wing ones and calling the pro-Palestine protests “hate marches.”

Sunak confirmed on Friday that he “maintains confidence” in the controversial Braverman, despite the criticism against her both within and outside his party. EFE