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More than 200K activists start marching through London as Yemen airstrikes raise tensions

More than 200K activists start marching through London as Yemen airstrikes raise tensions
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More than 200,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators have begun marching through London in the first large-scale demonstration of 2024.

Waving Palestinian flags, chanting “Freedom, Freedom, Palestine” and lighting smoke bombs, activists gathered on Queen Victoria Street and stormed Parliament House as they continued to demand a ceasefire in the war-torn Gaza Strip. A planned demonstration march was held.

Some activists wearing masks of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were seen holding a bloody effigy in the air to highlight the innocent lives lost in the Middle East wars.

Around 1,700 police officers from the Met and other UK forces have been mobilized amid fears the escalating tension in Yemen will bring more activists to the streets of the capital.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels, whose slogan includes ‘death to Israel’ and ‘curse the Jews’, have targeted commercial ships passing through the Red Sea in a show of support to Palestine.

In response, British and American forces launched targeted strikes across rebel-held areas of Yemen on Thursday night, while the US also carried out a fresh attack last night.

Some protesters were seen holding placards claiming Yemen ‘supports Palestine’. One placard read: ‘UK + US wants war. Yemen supports Palestine. Gaza wants to live.’

Ahead of today’s march, the Government has also advised that anyone who yells ‘Jihad’ while protesting should be arrested on sight.

Pro-Palestine protesters have been calling for a ceasefire in Gaza across London and other major cities in the UK on most Saturdays since Israel launched an offensive in response to the October 7 attacks carried out by Hamas terrorists.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched through London and staged a sit-in on Westminster Bridge last weekend, but police are bracing for tens of thousands today.

Activists gathered at Bank Junction, in central London, at around midday on as part of a global day of action for Palestine involving 30 countries, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said.

The seventh National March for Palestine has featured an appearance by Little Amal, a giant puppet of a Syrian child refugee, which will join a group of Palestinian children. Amal means hope in Arabic.

A ‘significant policing presence’ will be seen this weekend, with the Met also drafting officers in from outside of London. Activists who ‘intentionally push the limit’ on placards and slogans are warned they face arrest.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said he had been briefed by the Met’s commissioner Sir Mark Rowley on plans to ‘ensure order and safety’ during the protest.

‘I back them to use their powers to manage the protest and crack down on any criminality,’ the MP said.

The protest marks the 99th day of war in the Middle East and is expected to attract speeches from former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonalds.

In a review sent to the Home Office, Lord Walney, the Government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, said ‘disorder seen at ‘the anti-Israel marches’ means there is an argument for groups to cover ‘some policing costs’.

Former Labour MP Lord Walney, who was asked by Boris Johnson two years ago to investigate political violence and disruption, submitted his report to the Home Office before Christmas.

He told the Times: ‘Clearly shouting ‘jihad’ on the street in the wake of the pogrom on October 7 is not using the interpretation of the word meaning ‘inner struggle’.

‘Anyone of reasonable mind would know this and I am strongly of the view that people who are chanting ‘jihad’ should be arrested. I think the scale of pressure this is putting on the police is really concerning.

‘The build-up of rest days are going to have to be paid back and it will come out of other frontline policing priorities.

‘If it’s really the case that this drumbeat of mass protest is going to continue then we risk the public being significantly more exposed to crime as a result of it.’

The Met have said that a number of conditions will be in place today, including: Any person participating in the procession must not deviate from the route specified; the speeches at the assembly following the procession must end by 4.30pm and the whole event must end by 5pm; no participant in the protest may enter the area around the Israeli Embassy.

The 3.5m puppet became an international symbol of human rights after she journeyed 8,000km from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester in July 2021.

Amal will walk with demonstrators calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Groups will depart from Bank Junction at about midday, heading via Fleet Street and Victoria Embankment to Parliament Square where speeches will take place.

Ben Jamal, PSC director, said: ‘Israel has tried to ensure that Palestinians feel nothing but despair as they conduct a genocide in Gaza. But the world stands in solidarity with Palestinians and millions of people will protest this weekend in cities around the world.

‘Amal means hope in Arabic, and her presence in London on the March for Palestine, as part of a Global Day of Action, gives us not just hope but determination to continue our campaign not only to end Israel’s current bombardment of the Gaza Strip, but to end the decades of military occupation and the system of apartheid under which Palestinians have lived for over 75 years.’

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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