Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters demand ceasefire during London march
People hold up placards and wave Palestinian flags as they cross Waterloo Bridge during a 'March For Palestine' in London on October 28, 2023, to call for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)
(AFP) - Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched in central London on Saturday calling for an immediate ceasefire in the deadly war between Israel and Hamas.
It was the third consecutive weekend that the British capital had seen a large rally in support of Palestinians since the attack by Hamas on Israel earlier this month.
Israel unleashed a bombing campaign after Hamas gunmen stormed across the Gaza border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seizing more than 220 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Israeli strikes had killed 7,703 people, mainly civilians, with more than 3,500 of them children.
Saturday's protest in London came as Israel's army intensified its assault on the war-torn Gaza Strip late Friday.
Many demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans including "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."
They also held signs that read "Free Palestine" and "Gaza, stop the massacre," while some protesters let off fireworks and red and green flares.
Dani Nadiri, 36, said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's call for a "humanitarian pause" in the fighting to allow aid into Gaza and hostages to leave was not enough.
"A full ceasefire needs to happen," the TV producer told AFP, adding: "It's time now to do something rather than let it escalate any further."
Noori Butt, from Luton in southern England, said she just wanted the war "to end".
"It can't go on like this. The world is dying and I want lasting peace for everybody. That's the way it should be," the 38-year-old teacher told AFP.
About 100,000 people were expected to join the "March for Palestine," according to London's Metropolitan Police, which said it had deployed more than 1,000 officers to patrol the march.
The demonstrators gathered at Victoria Embankment at midday, before making their way to the British parliament in Westminster.
The force said it would not tolerate any hate crimes during the march.
Expressing support for Palestinians is allowed in Britain but praising Hamas -- a banned terrorist organisation in the UK -- is not.
The Met said officers would intervene if protesters used the word "jihad" in chants.
Nearly 100,000 people attended a similar march in London last Saturday. Thousands also rallied in the British capital on October 14.
Other rallies took place Saturday in Manchester and Glasgow, Scotland.
The UK government's stance on refraining from calling for a ceasefire is in line with the position of the United States -- both say Israel has the right to defend itself within international law.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Saturday that Hamas has given no indication it "desires or would abide by calls for a ceasefire".
© Agence France-Presse