Tens of thousands join pro-Palestinian march in central London

By Muvija M and Natalie Thomas

LONDON (Reuters) -Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched through central London on Saturday to call for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the latest in a series of weekend demonstrations in the capital since the seven-week war began.

Saturday’s rally, which involved 45,000 campaigners according to police estimates, took place during a four-day truce between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the first break in the fighting, but protesters said that was not enough.

“We need full support for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza,” protester Kate Hudson, 64, told Reuters at the rally as demonstrators carrying signs such as “Ceasefire Now!” and “Stop the War on Gaza” walked along the march route that finished outside the Houses of Parliament.

“It’s very welcome that there is a pause … But this problem needs to be resolved and resolved so that the Palestinians finally have the political settlement that countless U.N. resolutions have enshrined,” said Hudson, an anti-war activist.

Police, who were handing out leaflets to warn demonstrators against breaking the law, said they had made 18 arrests as of 1900 GMT, including a man who was spotted carrying a placard with swastikas on and six people who refused to disperse after the march.

“I would like to acknowledge the overwhelming majority who came into London today and exercised their right to protest lawfully,” Ade Adelekan, the Metropolitan Police’s deputy assistant commissioner said.

“Regrettably, there was still a small minority who believed the law did not apply to them,” he added in a statement providing an update on the number of arrests made.

More than 120 protesters were arrested during a march earlier this month, when skirmishes broke out between police and far-right groups who had gathered to protest against the pro-Palestinian demonstration.

A protest against antisemitism is planned in London on Sunday and London’s Metropolitan Police said more than 1,500 officers would be on duty over the weekend to handle the two protests.

Former interior minister Suella Braverman was fired by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after an unauthorised article in which she had accused police of “double standards” at protests showing support for Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

(Reporting by Muvija M and Natalie Thomas; Editing by Helen Popper and Christina Fincher)