LONDON: Thousands of people staged a protest march in central London on Saturday in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Protesters carried placards reading “Stop Bombing Gaza” and chanted “Free Palestine” as they marched toward the Israeli Embassy.
Organizers said “immediate action” is necessary from the UK government to put an end to Israel’s “brutal violence.”
A makeshift stage was set up, and protest leaders urged calm amid a surge in numbers and growing police presence.
London’s Metropolitan Police, who oversaw the march, said its strategy “was to ensure everybody is kept safe and to reduce the spread of coronavirus.”
Organizers said at least 100,000 people joined the march. Among the protesters was Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the main opposition Labour Party, who told crowds that “international action” could provide urgent help to those suffering in the conflict with Israel.
“Think what it’s like being a mother or father and seeing a building bombed in front of you, knowing your family is in there, and you can do nothing,” he said.
“It’s our global voices that will give support to those who are suffering at this time. End the occupation now. End all the settlements now and withdraw. End the siege of Gaza now.”
Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the UK, told crowds: “This time is different. This time we won’t be denied anymore. We’re united. We’ve had enough of oppression. Today we’re saying enough, enough with the complicity. Thank you for standing with us.”
The demonstration was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain.
“It is vital that the UK government take immediate action. It must stop allowing Israel’s brutal violence against and oppression of the Palestinian people to go unpunished,” said a spokesperson for the march.
“The bombardment of Gaza, which is killing civilians including children, is a war crime. It is occurring in the context of the illegal forced displacement of families in Jerusalem and attacks on Palestinian citizens of Israel by far-right groups including illegal settlers from the West Bank,” the spokesperson added.
“The UK government is complicit in these acts as long as it continues to offer Israel military, diplomatic and financial support. Such support must end, with a minimum start being an end to the two-way arms trade and trade with illegal Israeli settlements.”
Demonstrations also took place in other major UK cities, including Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol, Cardiff and Edinburgh.