The latest protest comes a day after the UK abstained from voting on a UNSC resolution demanding ceasefire, which the US vetoed.
Tens of thousands of people have converged on the United Kingdom capital for another weekend of protests, calling for an immediate end to Israel’s assault on Gaza and criticising their government for failing to vote in favour of a ceasefire in the besieged enclave.
The protesters marched from London’s Bank Junction to Parliament Square on Saturday, holding placards saying “Ceasefire now”, “End genocide” and the popular Palestinian slogan: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Many at the march criticised the UK for abstaining from a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which was vetoed by the United States.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had triggered the vote by invoking Article 99 of the UN charter, a measure unused in decades, saying that “the people of Gaza are looking into the abyss”.
The article allows the Secretary-General to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.
Israel’s war on Gaza has so far led to the deaths of at least 17,700 Palestinians – more than 70 percent of them women and children.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and Friends of Al Aqsa were among the groups that participated in the London rally, attended by 100,000 people, according to the organisers.
The London Metropolitan Police said an estimated 40,000 attended, local media reported.
— PSC (@PSCupdates) December 9, 2023
The march went on without major incidents and under strict conditions set out by the police, including an exclusion zone to prevent the demonstrators from assembling around the Israeli embassy.
Police, in a statement on X, said 13 protesters were arrested, mostly for offensive placards. A woman was identified through the police’s specialist Voyager CCTV monitoring team and arrested for an alleged offence that took place during a previous protest.
A man with a placard “making comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany” was also arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence, the police said.
Protests and solidarity marches have been held in London and cities across the world since the start of the Israel-Palestine conflict two months ago.
Last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who drew anger for accusing the police of being too lenient with pro-Palestinian protesters and calling such demonstrations “hate marches”.