London: Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators took to the streets of London on Saturday to protest against the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The protesters chanted slogans such as “Free Palestine” and “Stop the killing” and waved Palestinian flags as they marched towards the British parliament.
The protesters clashed with the police as they tried to block the Westminster Bridge, a major thoroughfare near the Palace of Westminster, where the parliament is located. The police used batons and horses to disperse the crowd and prevent them from crossing the bridge. The protesters resisted the police action and staged a ‘mass die-in’ on the bridge, lying down on the road and disrupting the traffic for two hours.
The Metropolitan Police said that the protesters did not inform them about the planned routes of the march and that they had to deploy a large number of officers to “minimize disruption and deal with any offenses”. The police also said that they arrested several protesters for various offenses, including assaulting a police officer and obstructing a highway.
The protest was part of a global wave of solidarity with the Palestinians, who have been suffering from the Israeli airstrikes and shelling in Gaza since October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel with rockets and drones. The conflict has killed more than 200 people, mostly Palestinians, and injured thousands more. The protesters demanded an immediate ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. They also accused the British government of being complicit in the Israeli aggression and urged it to stop selling arms to Israel.