By Democrat reporter
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has condemned the “unacceptable scenes” at today’s pro-Palestinian march as “violent” and “wholly unacceptable”.
The Metropolitan Police arrested 126 people after it faced “aggression” from counter-protesters before a pro-Palestine march through London on Armistice Day.
Another 150 people from the pro-Palestinian demonstration were detained in Grosvenor Place, after police said the “group were firing fireworks and many were wearing face coverings.”
Nine police officers were injured in central London, including two requiring hospital treatment, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said.
Mr Sunak branded far-right protesters as “EDL thugs”, while also condemning individuals “singing anti-semitic chants and branding pro-Hamas signs and clothing”.
Around 300,000 people are estimated to have attended the protest in support of Palestine on Saturday afternoon, which was anticipated to be the biggest political march in British history.
A large police presence was in place as the march made its way through the city and on Saturday morning far-right counter-protesters clashed with officers.
A crowd of people bearing St George’s flags were seen walking along Embankment and shouting “England till I die”, as they attempted to reach the Cenotaph.
The counter-protest came shortly after 10am and the two minute silence for Armistice Day was observed at 11am.
Dozens arrested following counter-protest
The Met Police posted on X, formerly Twitter: “While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter-protesters who are in the area in significant numbers.”
The force later said that counter-protesters had left Whitehall and moved into Chinatown, with a man arrested on suspicion of possession of a knife and another for possession of a baton.
Just after 12.30pm, it said a large group of around 100 people had been detained on Bridge Street, under police powers to prevent a disturbance.
Another two arrests were made, including one for assaulting a police officer and a second for possession of a controlled substance.
In a further update before 3pm, the Met Police said 82 people had been arrested in Tachbrook Street, Pimlico, to prevent a breach of the peace.
“They’re part of a large group of counter protesters we have been monitoring who have tried to reach the main protest march”, the force said.
Footage from around 10am showed the group chanting at police officers: “You let your country down.”
Reports suggested that some people were detained and prevented from leaving the nearby White Swan pub with a heavy police presence outside, including officers on horseback.
A further 10 arrests were made throughout the day for offences including possession of offensive weapons, affray and possession of drugs, police said.
Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said the counter-protest was a result of Home Secretary Suella Braverman “fanning the flames of division”.
“The far-right has been emboldened by the Home Secretary,” Mr Yousaf tweeted.
“She has spent her week fanning the flames of division. They are now attacking the Police on Armistice Day.
“The Home Secretary’s position is untenable. She must resign.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The scenes of disorder we witnessed by the far-right at the Cenotaph are a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words. The police’s job has been made much harder.”
Suella Braverman has been accused of emboldening far-right protesters after some clashed with police in London on Armistice Day, with calls growing for Rishi Sunak to sack her
Ms Braverman faces continued pressure from both political sides over her allegations of police bias.
In the London Times, she wrote that “pro-Palestinian mobs” were “largely ignored” by police “even when clearly breaking the law” and accused officers of “double standards” when it came to right-wing protests.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told reporters that “the words that she used are not words that I myself would have used”, but Downing Street said the Prime Minister still “has confidence” in Braverman, Downing Street said.
Ms Braverman rowed back on the comments on Friday and expressed her support for the Met Police, a source close to her said.
The planned route for the afternoon’s march in support of Palestine – the biggest since the Israel-Gaza conflict erupted – goes from Hyde Park to the US embassy in Vauxhall.
Officers have been given extra powers to search anyone for weapons and remove face coverings, while exclusion zones are in place covering areas around Whitehall and Westminster.
Pro-Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in at Waterloo Station. The British Transport Police (BTP) said officers were urging people to disperse after an order was put in place prohibiting trespassory assembly at a number of London train stations.
BTP said in a post on X: “Following engagement with protest liaison officers, protesters are refusing to leave Waterloo Station as agreed. “Therefore we are moving to arrest phase.”
Protesters earlier staged a brief sit-in at Victoria Station, where Housing Secretary Michael Gove appeared, before those in attendance started chanting “shame on you”, in his direction.
Netanyahu rejects ceasefire calls vowing to continue ‘full force’ battle with Hamas
The events in London came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying his country’s battle to crush Hamas militants would continue with “full force”.
A ceasefire would be possible only if all 239 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza were released, he said in a televised address.
The Israeli leader also insisted that after the war, now entering its sixth week, Gaza would be demilitarised and Israel would retain security control there.