LONDON - Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London on Saturday for a pro-Palestine protest, calling for an end to the war and showing solidarity with Palestinians since the Israel-Gaza war broke out in October.
For the seventh week in a row, British people marched to demand action from the government, which had expressed its unequivocal backing of Israel’s campaign on Gaza, and to demand an end to the war and support for an independent Palestinian state.
The protest began at 12:30 pm local time (12:30 GMT) and the route took marchers through Central London from Park Lane to end outside government buildings in Whitehall and the Palace of Westminster. MPs, trade union leaders, and civil society were among the protesters.
Ben Jamal of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, co-organiser of the march, said that the recent four-day truce agreement in Gaza was not enough to address the desperate needs of people in Gaza.
"A permanent ceasefire must be the starting point to address the underlying causes of the situation, including decades of military occupation and a system of oppression against the Palestinian people that is considered internationally to meet the legal definition of apartheid," Jamal said in a statement.
The pro-Palestine marches over the past few weeks have been among the largest political demonstrations in British history. The 11 November march, which coincided with the UK’s Armistice Day, saw an estimated 800,000 people attend.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said he expected that most people would protest peacefully this weekend in a post on X.
"This weekend more marches are planned across the capital. The freedom to protest and express passionate views is a key part of a democracy, and I know the vast majority of people will protest peacefully and respectfully," he said.
The Met police said extra officers will be among the 1,500 on duty over the weekend to ensure there is no disruption by possible counter-protesters.
The 11 November pro-Palestine march was met by opposition from right-wing groups, some of whom were arrested for disorder.
Solidarity marches are also planned this weekend in cities and towns across Scotland.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism, a British volunteer-led charity working to counter hate against Jews, has organised a march against antisemitism for Sunday in central London.
Since Israel's war on Gaza began on 7 October, more than 14,000 Palestinians were killed in Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza, including over 6,000 children.
Pro-Palestine solidarity protests have popped up across the world, from Cape Town to Karachi to Dublin and Kuala Lumpur.
The Conservative-led government has taken a hard stance towards the demonstrations and has been pressuring London’s Metropolitan police to find the powers to impose an outright ban on the marches.
While the UK has backed Israel in its onslaught on Gaza following the Hamas 7 October attack, there has been a noted shift in its rhetoric as Gaza erupted into a humanitarian catastrophe.