Twelve arrested at anti-Israel march

Protesters called for “intifada” as they marched to Israeli embassy during latest central London rally


Pro-Palestinian activists and supporters wave flags and carry placards during a National March for Palestine in central London on February 17, 2024. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Metropolitan Police made 12 arrests during the anti-Israel rally in central London on Saturday. The alleged offences included suspected support for a proscribed organisation, assault of emergency workers and inciting racial hatred.

According to the Met, several police officers were assaulted when one man was arrested for carrying "an antisemitic placard”, resulting in six further arrests.

Police estimated that 30,000 people gathered for the rally, while organisers, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign put the number between 200,000 and 250,000.

The protesters marched from Park Lane towards the Israeli embassy, where they gathered 100 metres from the embassy grounds, behind barriers. They faced arrest if they tried to get closer.

Around 1,500 police officers from across the UK were on the streets of London on Saturday.

Organisers had requested a start time for the rally of 12.30 pm . But the Met arranged for the rally to start at 1.30 pm to allow for shul-goers time to leave after a bar mitzvah at a synagogue on the route. 

Several police vehicles protected the synagogue during the rally.

Amongst the chants, protesters called for an “intifada” and shouted the now-common chant in support of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud, turn another ship around.” Another chant was: “Judaism yes, Zionism no, the State of Israel has got to go.”

One placard read: “How can you inflict the same torture that your own people suffered” with a picture of Adolf Hitler and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Another compared Israeli spokesperson Eylon Levy with Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels.

Another said: “Wake up, our media, TV, radio and government are controlled by Zionists. Zionists are ruthless, brutal and heartless.”

Amongst the speakers were former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and head of the Palestinian mission to the UK Husam Zomlot, who both called for “justice” for the Palestinians and an immediate ceasefire.

While the march in central London was taking place, people in north west London spotted a convoy of cars waving Palestinian flags, including a black flag with Arabic writing. One resident allegedly heard the drivers shout “Allah Akbar”. The Met stopped the convoy in Neasden before allowing it to drive towards central London and no arrests were made.

A spokesperson for the Met said: “Shortly before 16:00hrs on Saturday, 17 February officers on duty in the Neasden area spotted a convoy of vehicles displaying flags. The convoy appeared to have been organised in support of the Palestinian cause.

“In previous years, such convoys have driven through areas with significant Jewish communities, sometimes shouting abuse, causing fear for residents.

“Officers stopped the convoy as a precautionary measure. There had been no allegations of offences but officers were keen to understand the intentions of those involved.

“Specialist traffic units were called in and monitored the convoy as it went on its way, driving into central London and not into any residential areas where its presence could have caused concern.”

In a statement about the march on X/Twitter, the Met said “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.”

A spokesperson for the Met told the JC: A total of 12 arrests were made: One arrest for displaying support of a proscribed organisation. Three arrests for using threatening abusive or insulting words or behaviour or displaying material which threatening, abusive, insulting or likely to stir up racial hatred. Five arrests on suspicion of assault of an emergency worker. One arrest for obstruction. Two arrests on suspicion of refusing to remove a face covering when requested.”

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