Twelve arrests at pro-Palestine demonstration in central London

Twelve people were arrested at a pro-Palestine demonstration in central London, police said after the protest ended.

The arrests were for a string of alleged offences, including inciting racial hatred, suspicion of support for a proscribed organisation in relation to a placard, and assaulting emergency workers.

But the Metropolitan Police said the “overwhelming majority” of people who took part were peaceful and acted lawfully.

Between 200,000 and 250,000 people were expected at the demonstration, according to a spokesman for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Protesters met at the south of Park Lane, holding banners calling for a “ceasefire now” and chanting “free, free Palestine”, before leaving for designated place near the Israeli embassy where speeches were made.

Among the speakers was former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Palestinian ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot, who both called for “justice” for the Palestinian people.

The Islington North MP told the crowd he will be voting in support of a ceasefire motion at Westminster next week, to be tabled by the SNP.

Protesters took to London streets on Saturday (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“There were 12 arrests for placard related offences, assaults on officers and refusal to remove face coverings. Thankfully, none of the officers who were assaulted were seriously injured.

“Despite these arrests, the overwhelming majority who took part were peaceful and acted entirely with the law. We worked closely with the organisers and their stewarding team in the run up to and during the protest and we’re grateful for their cooperation.”

The force had imposed Section 60, 60AA and 35 orders, giving police additional powers, but they have been withdrawn and the Met said the orders are “no longer required”.

Jeremy Corbyn at the demo
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn takes part in a pro-Palestine march in central London (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The Section 35 dispersal order meant anyone refusing a direction to leave a specified area could be arrested.

Police also stopped a “pro-Palestinian car convoy” in Neasden, north-west London, and monitored it to ensure it was not “causing fear”.

Mr Corbyn took to the stage amid raucous applause, telling the crowd: “We’ve got to carry on. This is the 14th national demonstration and there’s going to be as many more as it takes until there is a ceasefire, until there is justice for the Palestinian people.”

He added: “We’re witnessing something globally horrific in real time on our televisions.

“And so on Wednesday, when the UK Parliament has a motion before it tabled by the Scottish National Party, I am signing in support of that motion.

“And I want every one of you here, demand, demand of your MP, your elected representative, be there, vote for a ceasefire.

“No ifs, no buts, no qualifications.”

Child at the demo
A child takes part in the demonstration (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“Hang on to your anger, hang on to your enragement, hang on to your horror and use it, use it in the pursuit of justice.”

At least 28,663 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its military operation in October in response to the October 7 attacks, when militants killed some 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage.

Israel is being urged not to send ground forces into Rafah on the Egyptian border, where many of the strip’s citizens are now living after areas closer to their homes became engulfed by fighting.

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