Hundreds of thousands gathering in largest UK pro-Palestine rally

The Met police have employed a series of intimidation tactics to repress the protest, but people are showing up in large numbers regardless.

  • Protesters hold up banners, flags and placards in front of the national Gallery in Trafalgar Square during a demonstration in support of Palestinian people in Gaza, in London, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (AP)

In London, hundreds of thousands are swarming the streets on Saturday in a pro-Palestine protest following the International Court of Justice’s ruling last week. 

Also expected is a forceful show of police brutality as organizers anticipate the Metropolitan police‘s opposition to be harsher this time around compared to previous marches, and accuse the force of yielding to governmental political pressures.

The Met has warned against wearing face covers that could hide a protestor’s identity, as an intimidation tactic that could scare people from participating, thereby suppressing the march, the director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Ben Jamal, said. However, he noted that large numbers of people are turning up despite the threats and the fear attempts. 

Chris Nineham, the vice-chair of Stop the War, said: “This is yet another example of the police attempting to criminalize Palestine protests and in the process chipping away at civil liberties. They are deliberately trying to raise tensions and create the impression that people marching for peace and an end to genocide are a threat to society. It’s an absolute disgrace.”

The Met has been trying to hurdle Sturday’s protest, first by disallowing the march to reach Whitehall and Trafalgar Square, forcing protestors to map out a U-turn toward Downing Street, and second by dispatching hundreds of officers throughout the march and placing obstacles along the way, making the protests more dangerous for participants. 

Pro-Palestinians have responded to the Met policing the march, noting that the same attitude was missing when pro-Israeli marches and protests were happening. 

The Metropolitan issued a statement saying, “The vast majority of those joining protests have done so in a lawful and peaceful way but a minority have broken the law and arrests have been made,” justifying the presence of police officers to condense the protest. 

The protest is set to begin midday with 300,000 people participating

UK Met police to be ‘absolutely ruthless’ with pro-Palestine rallies

In late October, a similar incident was faced as the head of the Metropolitan police, Commissioner Mark Rowley, declared that his forces would be “absolutely ruthless” during pro-Palestine protests, but said prosecutions would only happen when the law is broken.

During his interview on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday show, Rowley claimed that “many more” arrests are due in the coming weeks.

“We will robustly enforce up to the line of the law,” he said, adding, “We’re going to be absolutely ruthless and we have been and you’ll see many more arrests over the next week or so.”

Read more: Gaza Dr. gives testimony of war crimes in Gaza to UK Met Police

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