According to The Telegraph, thousands of people gathered in pro-Palestinian protests across the United Kingdom, against the backdrop of growing international concerns about the situation in Israel and Gaza. The largest of these demonstrations took place in London, where the Metropolitan Police had previously warned that anyone expressing support for the Islamist group Hamas could potentially face arrest on charges of promoting terrorism.

For the Saturday demonstration in the capital, more than 1.000 police officers were deployed. This protest coincided with a significant exodus of Palestinians from northern Gaza in anticipation of a potential Israeli ground invasion into the enclave.

The United Nations, the European Union, and numerous international NGOs have expressed deep concerns about the impact of Israeli actions on civilians, as the death toll continues to rise amidst airstrikes and blockade.

As The Guardian reported, protesters gathered in front of the BBC’s Broadcasting House on Portland Place before embarking on the march through London on Saturday afternoon. Palestinian flags were waved, and banners were displayed. After the start of the route, red, green, and black national-colored flares were ignited while chants of “Free, Free Palestine” filled the air as people made their way to the city center. Similar demonstrations also took place in Manchester, Edinburg, and various other parts of the UK.

The Metropolitan Police had indicated that specific areas in London would be covered by Section 60AA powers until 10:00 PM, which allow them to demand that attendees do not use masks to conceal their identities. Article 12 of the Public Order Act covering the protest route, which ends in Whitehall, was also in effect.

Prior to the demonstration, the BBC headquarters in London was painted red. The police have not linked this incident to any particular protest group. However, it comes after days of criticism from senior conservatives and others against the broadcaster for its editorial stance of not referring to Hamas militants as terrorists.

The UK government has staunchly supported Israel, with ministers also urging the police to use “the force of the law” against displays of support for Hamas or attempts to intimidate the Hewish community in the UK. The Home Office suggested earlier this week that waving Palestinian flags could be deemed illegal in some contexts.

Amid concerns about the scale of Israel’s response, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated on Friday that the country has “every right to defense itself” against Hamas attacks but emphasized that civilian safety must be paramount in people’s minds.

Orly Goldschmidt, a spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in the UK, previously asserted that Israel was not targeting civilians but acknowledged that innocent people would tragically lose their lives due to the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Image of The Guardian

By Martin

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