Parades expect massive turnout
The Community Security Trust will mount what is thought to be its biggest-ever operation on Sunday to ensure that two Salute to Israel parades in London and Manchester pass without incident.
Around 500 volunteers will join police officers on the streets of London to shadow 25 floats and 29 marching groups, representing a wide range of communal organisations.
A similar turnout is expected at a parade and rally due to take place in Manchester’s Heaton Park.
Float organisers were told that up to 1,000 police may line the route, although police sources suggested the figure may be closer to 250.
“Our goal is to ensure that our community enjoys its right to celebrate in peace and without disruption,” said Mark Gardner, CST spokesman.
“There have been months of planning with the parade organisers, local councils and specialist police units. It is of course regrettable that we have to take such security precautions, but the community understands the reasons for it and CST, like the police, will facilitate the celebration to the utmost of our abilities.”
The Salute to Israel parade route to Trafalgar Square - and vantage points for spectators.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “There will be sufficient officers on duty to deal with any eventuality that might arise.”
All the volunteers have undergone hours of extra training to equip them to meet any eventualities that might occur.
Senior CST personnel have held meetings with the Metropolitan and Greater Manchester police as well as the Greater London Authority, Westminster and Manchester councils. “There has been a complex planning process, which also involved health and safety matters,” Mr Gardner said.
Doug Krikler, chief of executive of UJIA, one of the main backers, was confident that the event (also sponsored by the JC) would be a success.
“In the past few weeks we have sensed growing interest and we anticipate similar numbers of people to the Trafalgar Square event in 2002. About 5,000 people will be participating in the parade and up to 40,000 joining in along the route and the party afterwards,” he predicted.
“Last time, everyone came to London from around the country. This time, we wanted to make things more accessible so there will be a parallel parade in Manchester, though without the floats, followed by a rally in Heaton Park at the same time as the one in London. We expect there to be a big turnout of families from all over the north of England.
“It has been a very exciting project that reflects the ability of the community to come together to do something on a grand scale in a collaborative and collective fashion for Israel.
“As organisers, we take very seriously the safety of the event and we have been liaising with all the public services as well as councils.”
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Twinning Network and Action Palestine students’ group have hired three double-decker buses and, according to temporary administration officer Don Atherton, are planning to drive around central London and the streets surrounding the square.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians will hold a vigil outside the South African embassy, near Trafalgar Square.
Meanwhile, another threat was exposed on the JustPeaceUK website, where a Jewish critic of Israel, Deborah Fink, calls for volunteers for a counter-demonstration — a naked bike ride.