Four arrests in central London during anti-Israel parade

Arrests made on suspicion of terrorism and hate crime related offences at latest anti-Israel rally


Britain's former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) joins anti-Israel activists for a protest in central London on March 30, 2024 (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP) (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Four people were arrested at an anti-Israel rally in central London on Saturday.

The arrests were over a string of alleged offences, including one for a racially aggravated disorder, one for inviting support for a terror group and two for harassment or causing alarm or distress.

A video emerged of a woman challenging a police officer to arrest protesters allegedly waving swastikas. The officer said “Everything needs to be taken in context doesn’t it?” when he was asked why waving a swastika was not disturbing public order.

When a man was arrested on suspicion of a terrorism-related offence, anti-Israel protesters surrounded the police van and sat on the street “to prevent it leaving”.

One woman was questioned by the police and had her placard, which pictured the Israeli flag in the bin and the words “keep the world clean”, confiscated by officers.

Another man was filmed repeating “I support Hamas” several times while under restraint by officers as he was marched towards a police van.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said there was “the prospect of further arrests to come as a result of ongoing enquiries.”

Organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), protesters marched from Russell Square to Trafalgar Square via the Strand. PSC estimated more than 200,000 people took to the streets on Saturday afternoon.

A pro-Israel counter-protest took place adjacent to the march. Activists held anti-Hamas posters and called for the release of the 134 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza.

A spokesperson for the counter-demo said the group sought to “promote” government policy by reminding people that Hamas are a proscribed terrorist organisation in UK law. The group chanted “Hamas is Isis” and “Terrorist supporters off our streets.”

Separately, anti-Hamas Iranian activist Niyak Ghorbani, 38, was detained for a second time whilst holding a sign that read “Don’t attack the law. Hamas is terrorist”. It comes less than a month since Ghorbani was controversially arrested at another Saturday march while holding the anti-terrorist sign. Former immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, described the arrest as a “shameful incident” at the time.

It is understood that Ghorbani was arrested on Saturday for anti-social behaviour after refusing a request from the police to provide his details and was swiftly de-arrested when he was identified by Met officers.

The group waving Israeli and UK flags were protected by a line of police officers and metal fencing.

As anti-Israel protesters marched past, they directed boos, swearing, and chants towards the pro-Israel group. One man was filmed shouting “F*ck you Israel, long live Hamas” and others chanted “shame on you” at the pro-Israel bloc.

One man shouted to a camera: “Who controls Britain? It’s the Jewish people that control Britain! Forty per cent of the MPs are Jewish”.

Other anti-Israel demonstrators chanted: “Judaism yes, Zionism no, the State of Israel has got to go”, “Israel is a terror state”, and “bye-bye Israel”.

Some protesters gathered outside Pret and McDonald’s, where they told customers they “supported genocide” by purchasing food at the chains.

One protester marching with the anti-Israel bloc held a sign that said, “Free the hostages, end the siege, peace process now.”

Another sign depicted a bull labelled "Gaza” slaughtering a man with a Star of David on his body. Copies of the latest edition of the Social Worker were distributed with the headline “Smash Israel” splashed across the front page.

Several placards depicted Aaron Bushnell, the American who self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in Washington.

One placard showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made to look like Adolf Hitler, with a tie embossed with a Nazi swastika and the words “baby butcher”.

Several signs compared the situation in Gaza to the Holocaust. One read “Stop the new Holocaust” and another, “If you wonder what would you do during the Holocaust you are going it now”.

Another sign read: “No we do not support Hamas but Hamas are not the targets, they are the excuse”. Still more signs said, “resistance is justified”,

Another sign bore pictures of US President Joe Biden and UK PM Rishi Sunak with devil horns and blood.

Placards with cartoons of Sir Keir Starmer and members of the shadow cabinet with bloodied faces, pointed teach and phrases such as “Starmer for genocide” and “Angela of death” were also carried.

Meanwhile, people were seen with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran and some placards depicted the notorious red triangle symbol, which has become recognised by many as a symbol for Hamas.

Former leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, marched alongside Palestinian activist Adnan Hmidan.

Introduced as “the people’s prime minister”, Corbyn criticised the UK government for the “grisly, ghastly arms trade with Israel”.

“What we’re watching on real time global television is the destruction of life, wanton destruction of life in Gaza,” Corbyn said.

“And when President Biden announces that he wants more aid to go into Gaza, well, President Biden, it’s your planes that are bombing the aid when it arrives in Gaza,” the former leader of the Labour Party went on.

The Crown actor, Khalid Abdalla, also addressed the crowd and called the anti-Israel demonstrations “love marches”.

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust, tweeted, “Another weekend, another protest – intimidating and threatening language chanted on our streets.”

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