More than 300,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through central London on Saturday, resulting in over 120 arrests as police tried to prevent far-right counter-protesters from ambushing the main rally. Skirmishes occurred between police and the far-right groups who were protesting against the demonstration on Armistice Day. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the violence at the Cenotaph war memorial and criticized “Hamas sympathisers” who participated in the larger rally. Tensions were already high before the march due to remarks made by interior minister Suella Braverman, who referred to the marches as “hate marches” led by “mobs”. The refusal of London’s Metropolitan Police to block the event strained relations with the government. The police later announced that they had arrested 126 people, the majority of whom were right-wing protesters. Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist expressed concern over the extreme violence exhibited by the right-wing protesters towards the police. He also mentioned that small groups had broken away from the main march and that some individuals had fired fireworks at officers. Investigations into hate crimes and support for proscribed organizations were ongoing. Sunak called for the police to take a tough stance. Throughout the day, skirmishes between police and right-wing protesters continued, with police using batons to contain the protesters. London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Scotland’s first minister, Humza Yousaf, criticized Braverman for inflaming tensions and emboldening the far-right. The police reported that over 300,000 people participated in the pro-Palestinian rally, while organizers claimed the figure was 800,000. Some marchers chanted slogans that were viewed as antisemitic, while others carried banners calling for a free Palestine and an end to the bombing in Gaza. There has been both support for Israel and anger over its military response since Hamas’s assault in southern Israel. In Brussels, about 21,000 people participated in a pro-Palestinian rally, and in Paris, around 16,000 protesters, including left-wing lawmakers, marched with pro-Palestinian banners and flags. French politicians have welcomed President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a ceasefire and opposition to Israel’s bombing campaign. Senior French lawmakers have organized a protest against antisemitism for Sunday.
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