Pro-Palestine protest: More than 800,000 at march through central London, say organisers

Pro-Palestine protest: More than 800,000 at march through central London, say organisers
Far-right protesters clash with police as pro-Palestine march moves through London
MIXED (PA, Original)

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through central London to call for a ceasefire in Gaza on 11 November.

The protest comes after a week of political arguments over whether the rally, scheduled for the same day as the annual Remembrance Day commemorations, should go ahead.

Both prime minister Rishi Sunak and home secretary Suella Braverman tried to have the rally cancelled on the basis that it is "disrespectful", but it turned into one of the biggest political marches in British history.

Police ended up having more trouble from several hundred far-right so-called counter-protesters, who attacked police cordons and threw projectiles at officers.

The pro-Palestine march, meanwhile, began nearly two hours after the two minute's silence at the Cenotaph on Whitehall. The march did not go down Whitehall.

Organisers say more than 800,000 people marched through London


As people continue to march, organisers have estimated the numbers to be more than 800,000 people.

That makes the march the second biggest in British history, after the 1.5m who attended the Iraq war demonstration in 2003.

A woman on the speaker system at the rally in Nine Elms said: “There are more than 800,000 of us here today and that number may be as high as one million."

Police put the number at 300,000 earlier in the day, but more people are likely to have joined since then.

Crowds still pouring across Vauxhall bridge

Videos of people still crossing Vauxhall bridge are doing the rounds on X/Twitter.

One person said: "Been marching for 5 hours and not even made it over Vauxhall bridge. This is historic."

Meanwhile, video journalist Matt Capon wrote: "One police officer told me he'd be surprised if they all made it towards the American Embassy. Frankly I don't think they'll all fit in Nine Elms."

Far-right counter-protesters continue attacking police near pro-Palestine rally

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

In Vauxhall, far-right counter-protesters have been pictured throwing cans and bottles at police.

It comes after the Met Police released a video of the so-called counter-protesters attacking police in Chinatown and near the Cenotaph.

More than 90 people have been arrested from the groups so far.

Large protests also in France, Belgium, Cyprus and elsewhere

JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

The UK isn't the only country hosting large pro-Palestine protests today, of course.

Large protests are taking place in France, Belgium (pictured), Cyprus and other countries this afternoon too.

It comes as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza city.

Israeli attacks have killed more than 11,000 people in Palestine in the last month, including more than 4,000 children.

Met Police 'actively looking' for several people after anti-Semitic statements

While more than 90 so-called counter-protesters have been arrested, the Met Police has said it is also looking for a handful of people in the main protest carrying offensive signs.

These include people wearing Hamas headbands, anti-semitic placards and chanting anti-Jewish slogans.

Protesters span more than two miles of central London

Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images

The BBC reports that the crowd stretches all the way from the US Embassy to the start point on Park Lane.

That's a whopping 2.5 miles-worth of people.

More from Met Police on its handling of today's events

Protest reaches US embassy in Vauxhall


The front part of the march has reached its final destination, outside the US embassy in Vauxhall.

As protesters wait for more people to arrive from along the route, there is a huge policing operation on site.

Earlier, Met Police boss Mark Rowley was seen inspecting policing efforts in the area.

When more protesters have arrived there will be a rally, with speeches from organisers.

Police have said protesters must leave the area by 5pm.

'More than 300,000' people at march for Palestine

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The Met police estimate that more than 300,000 people have turned up to the march today.

But despite a huge policing operation, officers have been distracted by the counter-protesters.

Matt Twist, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told the BBC: "The main pro-Palestinian march formed up about midday.

"It’s fair to say the march is absolutely enormous. It’s the biggest we’ve seen since the start of this period.

"From about 09:00 GMT this morning we’ve seen several hundred counter protestors that came towards Whitehall.

"They came intent on confrontation, intent on violence, and intent on causing trouble.

"We’ve made a number of arrests within the counter protest including for possession of a knife, possession of a baton, possession of class A drugs and assault on an emergency worker.

"Our intent is to prevent them coming into contact with the main march, that is the primary goal.

"We have a very substantial policing operation but that is being distracted by the counter protest that we’ve had to deal with."

Police arrest 82 counter-protesters near march route

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Police have arrested 82 counter-protesters in Pimlico, near the main pro-Palestine march route.

The Met said: “They’re part of a large group of counter protesters we have been monitoring who have tried to reach the main protest march.

“We will continue to take action to avoid the disorder that would likely take place if that happened.”

March crosses Vauxhall bridge as protesters shout 'free free Palestine'


The march is crossing Vauxhall bridge, as it makes its way towards the US Embassy.

Chants of "free free Palestine" could be heard from the crowd, along with “Rishi Sunak’s a wasteman” and “Rishi Sunak, shame on you. Keir Starmer, shame on you.”

People are also chanting “in our thousands in our millions we are all Palestinians”.

Police arrest counter-protesters near main march route

Police have started arresting a large group of counter-protesters near a pub in central London, according to the BBC.

About 50 people have been arrested on Tachbrook Street and more counter-protesters have been held inside the White Swan pub in Victoria by police.

Police have also cordoned off a group of about 15 people, some clutching beer cans, near Victoria Station, according to the PA news agency.

The site is close to the where people are marching past on the main pro-Palestinian march.

An officer told the PA news agency they were counter-protesters who had caused “a bit of trouble” so they have been put under a “breach of the peace cordon” to keep them away from the main march.

Police had expressed fears that counter-protesters would clash with pro-Palestinian marchers yesterday.

Jews turn out in force to protest Israel attacks on Gaza


Large swathes of those at the pro-Palestinian protest in central London are Jews, according to reports.

People were seen carrying banners with slogans such as: "Judaism condemns the state of Israel and its atrocities".

Others read: "Judaism demands freedom for Gaza and all Palestine."

More photos of far-right counter-protesters from earlier today

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

More photos have emerged of police tackling far-right counter-protesters earlier in the day.

Two arrests have been made so far, according to the Met, one of them for assaulting a police officer.

Helicopter footage of huge protest heading past Hyde Park

Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, has shared footage of the huge crowds heading past Hyde Park on the march route.

He wrote in The Times earlier this week: "To march — peacefully and lawfully — for an end to bloodshed and injustice is surely laudable on any day.

"And it seems entirely appropriate to do so on Armistice Day, when we honour those who gave their lives to secure peace in conflicts past."

Yvette Cooper appears to hint at Suella Braverman for influencing far-right violence near Cenotaph

House of Commons

More politicians have blamed the home secretary for the clashes involving far-right groups this morning.

Suella Braverman last week described the pro-Palestinian protests as "hate marches" and said the police should tackle them in the same way they do far-right protests.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper made a thinly veiled reference to Braverman. She said: "Some disgraceful scenes this morning. We urge everyone to respect the police & each other & exercise calm.

"Everyone must reflect on the impact of their words & actions. It is the responsibility of all of us to bring people together over this weekend not divide and inflame."

The Scottish Greens justice spokesperson, Maggie Chapman MSP, added: "The shameful scenes and disruption we have seen today are a direct result of the smears and misinformation that has been amplified and spread by the Home Secretary and her colleagues. It is a disgrace of their own making."

Jeremy Corbyn spotted at front of pro-Palestine march


Some familiar faces spotted at the rally, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Police confirmed there was a "very large turnout" at the march, which is currently making its way from Hyde Park to Vauxhall.

It is thought more than half-a-million people are attending.

'No incidents' related to main pro-Palestinian march so far

Despite estimates of hundreds of thousands of people marching for Palestine in central London, the police say there have been 'no incidents' related to the protest so far.

It is in stark contrast to the Met's statement about a much smaller group far-right counter-protesters near the Cenotaph this morning, who subjected officers to 'violence and abuse'.

The main pro-Palestinian march is making its way from Hyde Park to Vauxhall now.

Sadiq Khan slams Suella Braverman after police face 'violence' from far-right

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said Suella Braverman is responsible for far-right counter-protesters fighting police.

He said: “The scenes of disorder we witnessed by the far-right at the Cenotaph are a direct result of the home secretary’s words.

"The police’s job has been made much harder. The Met have my full support to take action against anyone found spreading hate and breaking the law.”

He echoed the words of Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf earlier today.

March gets underway from Hyde Park amid chants of 'free Palestine'

Google Maps

Calls for a ceasefire in Gaza were heard as thousands of people began the march from Hyde Park to Vauxhall.

Here's a reminder of the route.

Met Police face 'violence and abuse' from counter-protesters

The Met has posted a video of the "violence and abuse" they faced this morning from counter-protesters, many of whom are believed to be from far-right groups.

Fears that they would clash with the main pro-Palestinian protest have so far not come to light, but police have arrested a number of counter-protesters after violence in the area around the Cenotaph.

Police arrest far-right counter-protesters at Westminster Bridge

More scuffles reported as police make arrests at Westminster Bridge.

The far-right counter-protesters are opposing the main pro-Palestinian rally, which is due to set off from Hyde Park shortly.

Police: All marches and speeches must end at 5pm


The Met has said the march and all speeches must end at 5pm.

It said officers will have additional powers to search anyone in the area for weapons.

People in the area will also be required to remove face coverings that are believed to be concealing their identity.

Pro-Palestinian Jewish groups join protest in London

Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images

Protesters gather in Hyde Park for pro-Palestine march

As the far-right clash with police around Whitehall and Chinatown, the scenes in Hyde Park are significantly more peaceful.

More than 500,000 people are expected to march through London this afternoon calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Police face more violence from far-right counter-protesters in Chinatown

The latest update from the police is that counter-protesters have headed towards Chinatown, where there have been more scuffles.

The Met said: "A group of counter protestors who left Whitehall and moved into Chinatown confronted and threw missiles at officers who tried to engage with them."

Police said earlier this week that they will use all powers at their disposal to prevent counter-protesters clashing with pro-Palestinian marchers this afternoon.

Scottish first minister says Suella Braverman 'emboldened' counter-protesters

Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland, has said fighting between counter-protesters and police is partly down to Suella Braverman's comments earlier this week.

He wrote on social media that the home secretary "emboldened" far-right protesters to attack police officers.

Police faced 'aggression from counter-protesters' near Cenotaph

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The Metropolitan police released a statement on the fighting near the Cenotaph this morning.

The Met said: “While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter-protesters who are in the area in significant numbers.

“The counter-protesters are not one cohesive group. There are different groups moving away from Whitehall towards other parts of central London. Officers are keeping track of them as they do.

“If their intention is to confront the main protest departing later today from Park Lane, we will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent that from happening.”

Winston Churchill's grandson defends right to protest for Palestine

Peter Summers/Getty Images

Former Tory MP Nicholas Soames has backed people's right to march for Palestine this afternoon.

Soames, who is the grandson of Winston Churchill, said that while he understood concerns around the march, people died in the First World War for the freedom to protest.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "This is the weekend that we commemorate at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month the life and death of all those who died in defence of our country and in the cause of freedom.

"This is what they died for – the right to protest."

Pro-Palestine marchers start to arrive at Hyde Park ahead of rally

Pro-Palestinian protesters are arriving at Hyde Part at the starting point for the march, PA reports.

Many are carrying Palestinian flags, while others carry placards with slogans such as "free Palestine".

Abid Mahmood, 25, holding a Palestinian flag, travelled from Birmingham to London yesterday to attend.

He told PA: “Palestine needs us, they haven’t got anybody else they need us.

"No-one’s backing them and it’s cruel what’s happening, to see people getting killed, babies getting killed – they need our support. We’re here for a good reason not to cause trouble, we have come to peacefully protest.”

Videos emerge of clashes with police in central London

This video was posted by the chief executive of non-profit Hope Not Hate, and appears to show a large crowd in central London clashing with police.

The crowd, heard chanting "England till I die", is thought to be part of the so-called counter protest, ahead of a pro-Palestinian march this afternoon.

It comes after similar reports from PA news agency of fighting in the area around the Cenotaph.

Flag waving groups gather in central London as two minutes' silence passes

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The two minutes' silence went ahead at the Cenotaph without a hitch, but large groups of people waving British flags have gathered in the surrounding area.

It comes as crowds shouting "England till I die" clashed with police, according to reports.

Police were concerned that so-called counter protesters would clash with pro-Palestinian marchers later today.

Fights break out between police and groups with England flags near Cenotaph

The PA news agency says that fights have broken out between police and groups trying to reach the Cenotaph.

The agency reports:

The large crowd of people bearing St George’s flags was seen walking along Embankment and shouting “England till I die”.

A line of police attempted to stop them from reaching Whitehall but the group pushed through, with some shouting “let’s have them” as officers hit out with batons.

The group appears to have reached Whitehall where the Cenotaph is situated.

Many more are pushing through, shouting “forward”.

Gaza situation worsening as thousands prepare for march in London

As people prepare for the march later today, it's worth remembering what they are rallying against.

The aid agency Doctors Without Borders has quoted a surgeon expressing concern at the “catastrophic situation” inside a major hospital in Gaza City called al-Shifa, as Israeli attacks get worse.

“Over the last few hours, the attacks against al-Shifa hospital have dramatically intensified.

"Our staff at the hospital have reported a catastrophic situation inside just few hours ago,” the aid agency posted to X/Twitter.

Far right figure Tommy Robinson spotted in central London

X/Twitter / @TRobinsonNewEra

Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far right English Defence League, is thought to be in central London with a group of counter protesters.

An X/Twitter account purporting to be Robinson posted a video of him walking down what appears to be Whitehall, along with a large crowd of mainly men.

Earlier this week, he urged "young English men" to gather in London on "our sacred day".

Laurence Taylor, the Met police's deputy leader, said earlier this week: "I do believe if the groups come together, there will be serious disorder."

Counterprotest groups expected in central London, say police

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Groups of people are expected to gather in central London to "confront" the pro-Palestinian march, the police have warned.

The "counter protesters" will be allowed inside the police exclusion zone at the Cenotaph, where pro-Palestinian marchers will not be allowed.

There are fears that the two crowds could meet at some point today, which will be the central concern of police in the capital.

King Charles to lead Remembrance Day ceremony

Stefan Postles/Getty Images

The remembrance ceremony will go ahead at the Cenotaph as planned, with a minute's silence at 11am.

King Charles will lead the proceedings, joined by Rishi Sunak, former prime ministers, and representatives from across the Commonwealth.

It's worth remembering that, for all the political uproar, the commemorations will be long finished by the time pro-Palestinian protesters gather at Hyde Park this afternoon.

The Cenotaph is under 24-hour guard, while any protesters found in the area will be arrested, police say.

The march is not planned to go past the monument.

Here's our explainer on the Cenotaph, and why it is significant.

Met Police warned to ignore political pressure around march

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

The Met has briefed its officers not to be influenced by pressure from politicians over today’s proceedings.

Laurence Taylor, deputy assistant commissioner, said: “There is no doubt this is going to be a very tense weekend. Narratives throughout the week clearly play into that.”

“I have briefed all of my commanders that the decisions we make are not to be influenced by external comments or pressure.”

It comes after home secretary Suella Braverman characterised the rallies as “hate marches” earlier in the week.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has also tried and failed to persuade the police to ban the march, claiming it is “disrespectful” on Remembrance Day.

March route from Park Lane to US embassy, avoiding Whitehall and Cenotaph

Google Maps

Organisers have shared a route for the rally later, which will begin at Hyde Park and work its way through Westminster.

Protesters will then cross Vauxhall bridge before heading to the US embassy in Nine Elms, where speeches and a rally will take place.

The route avoids the usual protest spots of Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, where Remembrance Day events will take place about two hours earlier.

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has urged attendees to "march peacefully" and follow the official route.

It also said people at the rally should disperse by 4pm, when the official event comes to a close.

More than 500,000 people expected to march in London, say organisers

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

A spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the organisers of the march, said more than 500,000 people are expected to turn out in central London today.

Similar events are likely to be held in other cities around the UK, but the one in the capital could be one of the biggest political protests ever, by those numbers.

For context, it is estimated that about 1.5m people marched in protest against the Iraq War in 2003.

The PSC spokesperson said: “We invite all people of conscience to join us in peacefully marching. More than 500,000 people are expected to converge in London, making it one of the largest political marches in British history,” they said.

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