Around 300,000 people at the pro-Palestinian march

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The police, citing the figure of around 300,000 people, estimated that it was “the largest march” organized since October 7 in the city.

Calmly displaying Palestinian flags and brandishing signs asking to “stop the bombing of Gaza”, the demonstrators shouted “Free Palestine” and “ceasefire now”, five weeks after the deadly attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against Israel, which in response massively bombs the Gaza Strip.

At the same time in France, which has one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe, more than 16,000 people according to the police marched in Paris under the slogan “Stop the massacre in Gaza!”.

There were also more than 20,000 in Brussels to denounce a “genocide” in the Gaza Strip and call for a ceasefire. In Switzerland, pro-Palestinian demonstrations brought together some 2,000 people in Geneva and 1,000 in Zurich.

Against the advice of the government

A major security system had been deployed in the British capital to avoid possible excesses, the police having already arrested nearly 200 people during previous marches “for Palestine”, organized since October 7.

“I condemn the violent and totally unacceptable scenes we witnessed today from the EDL and associated groups, as well as Hamas sympathizers participating in the ‘National March for Palestine'”, reacted in the evening Mr Sunak in a statement.

The march was held against the advice of the government, which had deemed it “disrespectful” on this weekend of commemorations of the armistice of the First World War.

“I am here in solidarity with the Palestinians in the face of the injustice that is happening. It is intolerable,” Gavin Searle, a 58-year-old director from Hastings (southern England), told AFP.

“We cannot stand by when people are killed,” says Shiraz Bobra, 41, from Leicester (central England). She hopes that the mobilization will encourage political leaders “to sit around the table and organize” a ceasefire.

John McGowan, a Catholic priest, who says he lived 5 years in Jerusalem and defends the principle of a two-state solution, says he “suffers for the Palestinians because their land is occupied and their occupants can be cruel.”

Altercations

Nearly 2,000 police officers were mobilized, in particular to try to avoid confrontations with nationalist activists, who came in “hundreds”, according to the police, including Tommy Robinson, founder of the far-right group EDL.

Scuffles took place at the end of the morning between the police and some of these activists, some of whom were waving the flag of England (red cross of Saint George on a white background) or the Union Jack (the flag of the United Kingdom). ), and who were trying to approach the Whitehall area where the memorial to British soldiers who died in combat is located.

At the start of the afternoon, the police claimed on pro-Palestinian.

Some 150 participants in this procession were also arrested for hiding their faces or setting off fireworks. The police announced that they were “actively” looking for two masked demonstrators wearing headbands in the colors of Hamas.

Political crisis

The organization of the march turned into a political crisis, the government having put pressure on the police to ban it, which the latter refused. Rishi Sunak had warned that he would hold the police chief, Mark Rowley, “responsible” for any excesses.

Interior Minister Suella Braverman, who described the pro-Palestinian demonstrations as “hate marches”, sparked a flood of criticism after questioning the impartiality of the police in their handling of the demonstrations.

Friday evening, she affirmed that she “totally supported” the police, but several political leaders accused her of adding fuel to the fire before the procession took place.

Several opposition elected officials again called for his departure from the government on Saturday, such as Scottish Prime Minister Humza Yousaf. “The far right was encouraged by the Minister of the Interior (…) They are now attacking the police on Armistice Day. The position of the Minister of the Interior is untenable. She must resign,” he said. -he writes on X.

The war has left 1,200 dead in Israel, the majority civilians killed in the unprecedented attack on October 7 by Hamas, according to a downwardly revised toll from the Israeli government. And 11,078 died in the bombings carried out in retaliation by Israel in the Gaza Strip, mainly civilians too, including 4,506 children, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

Since the start of the conflict, the United Kingdom has experienced an increase in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic acts.

This article is originally published on laliberte.ch

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