LONDON, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of protesters are expected to join a pro-Palestinian march in London on Saturday, a rally that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called disrespectful amid fears it could spark violence on War Remembrance Day. Veterans.
The “National March for Palestine” is the fourth held in the British capital since Hamas’s attacks on Israel on October 7, but ministers said it should be canceled as it coincides with Armistice Day, which marks the end of the World War. First, and commemorations for those killed during military action.
Police announced they would have nearly 2,000 officers on duty, pledging to quell any disorder caused either by those involved in the march or by a counter-protest by far-right groups and opposing veterans .
“I believe if the groups come together there will be serious trouble,” said Assistant Deputy Commissioner Laurence Taylor, the officer in charge.
“The police operation this weekend is huge,” he told reporters, saying it would be “difficult and tense.”
There has been strong support and sympathy for Israel from Western governments, including Britain, and many citizens following the Hamas attacks. But the Israeli response has also sparked anger, with weekly protests in London demanding a ceasefire.
Organizers of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said Saturday’s march would avoid the cenotaph near Sunak’s Downing Street office and end at the US embassy about two miles away.
Police said they would impose an exclusion zone around areas linked to commemoration events, while an unprecedented 24-hour police guard at the Cenotaph has been in place since Thursday.
“We could potentially have one of the biggest marches in British political history, but I can say with certainty that hundreds of thousands of people will take part,” Ben Jamal, director of the PCS, told Reuters.
“Politicians cannot ignore significant sections of public opinion for any length of time.”
“HATE FOR THE MARKETS”
While previous CPS marches have been generally peaceful, more than 100 arrests have taken place, including for showing support for Hamas, an organization banned in Britain as a terrorist organisation, or for holding signs with offensive slogans.
Three women appeared in court on Friday on terrorism charges for supporting Hamas by carrying images of paragliders, and police say the dissident groups’ behavior at rallies has become more violent.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, in charge of the police, sparked controversy by calling protesters “hate marchers”, and Sunak came under pressure from his own lawmakers to fire her after accusing the double standards about how she treated her. pro-Palestinian crowds.
The Prime Minister himself said Saturday’s protest was disrespectful but should be allowed to go ahead, although he said he would hold London’s police chief to account for safeguarding the events of commemoration.
Lawmakers expressed concern that far-right groups will seek to use the occasion as an excuse to commit acts of violence.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, former co-leader of the English Defense League, which has organized often violent protests against Islam, called on his supporters to rally in the capital.
“We want to show the world that the British people don’t have it,” Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by Tommy Robinson, said in a social media video. “So… I hope that this Saturday I will see as many of you as possible in London.”
DAC Taylor said police hoped to avoid unrest but clashes were likely.
“There will be times this weekend where you will see pockets of confrontation, despite the conditions and everything I have put in place to manage that,” he said.
“I hope that’s not the case, but I think it’s likely that the police will have to use force to deal with some of the situations that we have to deal with.”
Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Ed Osmond
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