Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a march from Marble Arch to the Israeli embassy near Kensington High Street on Saturday 15 May in response to the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Palestine.
Demonstrators chanted ‘Free, Free Palestine’ and former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott were amongst high profile speakers who called for urgent government action to stop the violence.
Following 11 days of violence that left at least 243 Palestinians and 12 Israelis dead, a ceasefire was brokered between the Israeli Government and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Jewish Labour Movement’s Mike Cushman said: “This is part of a process of building up public opinion in this country to stop government support for Israel and to see that Israel is as worthy of being sanctioned.”
The Metropolitan Police said they arrested 13 people, after confrontations with police officers left several people with minor injuries.
Speaking at the event, Corbyn called for an end to the ‘occupation’ and ‘siege’ of Gaza and called for further demonstrations.
He added: “Next week, we will be back here, and we will be back again and again.
“What we need is a massive demonstration of the people of this country to say: ‘We want peace in the Middle East, we want peace in every country, we want peace for the people of Palestine’.”
Supporters of Palestine claim Israel’s use of disproportionate force results in excessive civilian deaths, with Amnesty International suggesting on Monday that some of the Israeli Defence Forces actions’ could amount to war crimes.
Speaking at the protest, Head of the Palestine Mission to the UK Husam Zomlot said: “There are no two sides to this brothers and sisters, there is only one side: the fight to end injustice.”
Israel claims they are fighting an existential battle against a terrorist organisation that are committing war crimes by indiscriminately targeting Israeli civilians.
Mark Regev, a senior advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli ambassador to the UK, suggested on MSNBC that Israel took maximum precautions to minimise civilian casualties.
He said: “We do not want to see Palestinian casualties: they are not our enemies.
“The people of Gaza are not our enemy: our enemy is this brutal terrorist movement that is trying to kill our people.”