Hizbollah flags flew in London today as around 600 anti-Israel protesters gathered for the annual Al-Quds Day march.
Police did not act to prevent the protesters displaying the colours of the organisation, whose military wing is defined as a terrorist group by the UK government.
Approximately 500 pro-Israel activists mounted a counter-demonstration, chanting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and "Terrorist scum: off our streets" when the Al-Quds Day marchers collected outside the United States embassy in Grosvenor Square.
Signs accusing Israel of genocide were handed out at the start of the protest, with a banner at the front of the rally reading: "Dismantling of Zionist State = End Of Bloodshed." One man carried a homemade placard which said: “Israel is a cancer. We are the cure.”
In contrast, pro-Israel demonstrators handed out signs proclaiming “Peace Not Hate”.
Forty police officers used fences and a barricade to keep the two groups of protesters apart.
Matthew Offord, Conservative MP for Hendon, and Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, joined the counter-demonstration, which was organised by Sussex Friends of Israel, Zionist Federation and Israel Advocacy Movement.
Mr Johnson said he "wanted to come here to support the activists who are standing up for peace, and to draw peaceful attention to the idea that people walk through the streets of London waving the Hizbollah flag.
"I think that's a real issue, that on a sunny Sunday afternoon people feel that they can wave the flag of a recognised terrorist group in public."
Arieh Miller, the Zionist Federation director, led the pro-Israel chants. He said that ‘Yes to peace; no to hate’ was the main message of the protest.
“We're here to celebrate peace and say that it's time for an end to hate on the streets of London, which Al-Quds Day represents,” he said.
“They're flying the Hizbollah flag, which has a weapon at its centre. That flag represents the group’s military wing. That wing is a terrorist group.”
The flag features a hand gripping a machine gun.
Joseph Cohen, who runs the Israel Advocacy Movement grassroots group, said the day had been “incredible.
“Last year my wife and I were the only people opposing the rally, when there were people marching with Hizbollah flags calling for the genocide of Israel.
It's amazing today to see hundreds of people coming out to oppose Hizbollah terrorism. Every year they march unopposed. Not this year.”
Simon Cobbs, co-founder of Sussex Friends of Israel, said that the event was “a display of what grassroots groups can do when they come together. This is the first year and it couldn't have gone better.”