About 100,000 people joined a pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London on Saturday, marching through the British capital to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
Chanting “Free Palestine”, holding banners and waving Palestinian flags, the protesters moved through London before massing at Downing Street, the official residence and office of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Police estimated 100,000 people had taken part in the “National March for Palestine” demonstration, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
“As a Palestinian who’d like to return home one day, as a Palestinian who has brothers and sisters in Gaza, and family, I wish we can do more but protest is what we can do at the minute,” one woman said.
Many of the chants and banners contained strong anti-Israeli slogans, and one protester held a banner with pictures of Sunak, US President Joe Biden, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the message “Wanted For War crimes”.
Police had cautioned before the march that anyone showing support for Hamas would face arrest, and any incident of hate crime would not be tolerated.
The protest appeared peaceful and there were no immediate reports of any arrests.
Figures on Friday showed there had been a 1,353 per cent increase in anti-Semitic offences this month compared to the same period last year, while Islamophobic offences were up 140 per cent.
“This has been an issue which has long stimulated passions and we are now all seeing on social media and in our communities, how divisive and polarising the current situation has become,” British foreign minister James Cleverly said at a peace summit in Cairo.
Hollywood writes to Biden
A-list Hollywood celebrities, including Cate Blanchett, Joaquin Phoenix, Ramy Youssef and Andrew Garfield, penned a letter to US President Joe Biden on Friday, urging him to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Dozens of top-flight names from the world of entertainment asked Biden to work to achieve an “immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel before another life is lost”.
“We urge your administration, and all world leaders, to honour all of the lives in the holy land and call for and facilitate a ceasefire without delay,” said the letter, released by artists4ceasefire.org.
“Saving lives is a moral imperative.”
Friday’s letter, which was also signed by Jon Stewart, singer Dua Lipa, Susan Sarandon and Channing Tatum, comes a week after hundreds of Hollywood figures signed an open letter condemning Hamas.