Eleven pro-Palestine protesters arrested as thousands march to Israeli embassy in London

Between 200,000 and 250,000 people were expected to take part in the protest
Between 200,000 and 250,000 people were expected to take part in the protest - JEFF GILBERT

Police arrested 11 people as thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched near the Israeli embassy on Saturday, amid claims many activists were brandishing anti-Semitic banners.

Scotland Yard said one arrest had been made “on suspicion of support for a proscribed organisation in relation to a placard”, with further arrests made during an incident at Hyde Park Corner.

A man was reportedly arrested for inciting racial hatred after being seen in the crowd with an anti-Semitic placard. When officers went in to make the arrest they were assaulted, leading to more arrests for assaulting an emergency worker.

Two other people were held for refusing to remove face coverings when required to do so by officers under Section 60AA of the Public Order Act.

A banner at the Pro-Palestine March in London on 17 February
A banner at the Pro-Palestine March in London on 17 February

Officers also made a further arrest at the march in connection with an anti-Semitic placard, bringing the total held to 11 by 4pm.

As the demonstration made its way to the embassy in Kensington, police in Neasden, north west London, stopped a pro-Palestinian car convoy over fears it was heading to areas with a large Jewish community.

Scotland Yard said: “In previous years, similar convoys have driven through areas with significant Jewish communities causing fear for residents. Specialist traffic officers, with the support of the police helicopter, are now monitoring the convoy to ensure there is no repeat of that today.”

Many of the estimated 200,000 marchers held placards proclaiming “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, which is widely seen as a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

A banner at the Pro-Palestine March in London on 17 February
A banner at the Pro-Palestine March in London on 17 February

Others brandished banners accusing Israel of genocide.

There were also claims that some of the marchers held placards with symbols showing support for Hamas gunmen, such as one appearing to show a V on a red background in imitation of the terror group’s red triangle symbol.

Another placard, held up by a young woman, read: “I thought Hitler was dead”, next to the star of David, in what some considered an anti-Semitic reference to the Holocaust.

At one stage a small of protesters attacked a man holding a sign describing Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

One threw clods of earth at the solitary counter-protester, who was standing behind a railing.

Protesters march in London on February 17
Thousands of people took to the streets to voice their anger at the ongoing Gaza conflict - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

In an anti-Semitic trope about Jews controlling the media one man held a homemade placard reading: “Wake up our media TV, Radio and Government are controlled by Zionists. Zionist are ruthless, brutal, heartless.”

Other placards compared the government of Israel to Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Several marchers also chanted their support for Houthi rebels in Yemen firing missiles at freight ships in the Red Sea.

The Met police said: “Officers in the operations room are also monitoring the images being shared on social media and details are being passed to officers on the ground as required.”

A Pro-Palestinian supporter holds a placard depicting a caricature of Benjamin Netanyahu in London on February 17
Met Police officers have been 'briefed to be on the lookout for offensive placards and banners' - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

Among the speakers on the march was Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, who said: “Hang on to your anger, hang on to your enragement, hang on to your horror and use it, use it in the pursuit of justice.”

Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, also spoke, telling the crowd: “We’ve got to carry on. This is the 14th national demonstration and there’s going to be as many more as it takes until there is a ceasefire, until there is justice for the Palestinian people. We’re witnessing something globally horrific in real time on our televisions.”

The Met Police had earlier intervened to prevent the march to the Israeli embassy starting until after a religious service at a synagogue along the route had concluded, although hundreds of pro-Palestine activists gathered nearby before the demonstration set off.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAS) described the choice of route past the synagogue as deliberately intimidating.

The CAS said: “In previous weeks, the marches have included people supporting Hamas and openly flaunting their anti-Jewish racism, and congregants leaving synagogue had to walk through them.”

Protesters were kept more than 100 metres away from the embassy grounds and faced arrest if they moved any closer. A static rally was held near the embassy on Oct 9.

At least 28,663 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its military operation in response to the Oct 7 attacks, when militants killed some 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage.

Ben Jamal, the director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), said: “The images this week from Israel’s bombardment of Rafah, of children with limbs torn apart, should be seared on the conscience of the world.

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