Amid protest rallies over the Israel-Hamas conflict, groups of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters clashed at High Street Kensington Tube Station in London on October 9. London is not the only place where Islamists have been celebrating attacks on Isreal, such visuals were coming from across the globe. (Organiser compiled a list of such countries in this report)
Police officers were dispatched to restrain tensions between sympathisers on opposing sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their priority was keeping the peace and avoiding violence between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters as events overseas triggered heated demonstrations in London.
Videos on various social media platforms showed dozens of police officers attempting to separate demonstrators at High Street Kensington Tube Station as a pro-Palestine rally taking place outside the Israeli embassy started to escalate.
In a major escalation on October 7, Hamas launched a “surprise attack” on Israel, firing a barrage of rockets into the southern and central parts of the country, killing over 700 people.
Meanwhile, UK PM Rishi Sunak has branded the people supporting Hamas for the “appalling attack” as “terrorists”.
“The people who support Hamas are fully responsible for this appalling attack. They are not militants. They are not freedom fighters. They are terrorists,” posted Sunak on X.
Thousands gathered for the pro-Palestinian protest in front of the Israeli Embassy on Monday evening at around 6 pm (GMT). Some protestors were seen climbing lampposts with flags and flares. Protesters chanted “Israel is a terrorist state” and “Allahu Akhbar.” Stalls were set up selling “Free Palestine” merchandise. Some launched fireworks towards the embassy building.
“Events in central London this evening – following the attack in Israel and the escalation of conflict along the border with Gaza in recent days – have now concluded, with three arrests and further live arrest enquiries underway,” said Metropolitan Police in a statement.
In contrast, weeping Israelis held a vigil outside Downing Street in the evening to honour victims and hostages taken by Hamas during an assault over the Gaza border on Saturday. UK PM Rishi Sunak also visited a London synagogue in a show of support for Israel.
On the other hand, Suella Braverman, Member of Parliament of the UK called for zero tolerance of terrorism on the streets of Britain.
“There must be zero tolerance for anti-semitism or glorification of terrorism on the streets of Britain. I expect the police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas, other proscribed terrorist groups or attempts to intimidate British Jews,” Braverman posted on X.
The protests reflected growing overseas tensions over the escalating violence between Israel and Palestine.
Earlier on Monday, a Kosher restaurant in the Golders Green area in London was vandalised, and a nearby bridge was graffitied with “Free Palestine.” The UK’s Chief Rabbi said hardly any Jewish family is unaffected by the Hamas attack, calling it a time of “grief and worry”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan posted online, “There is no tolerance for hate in our city. I remain in close contact with the Met Police. Whoever did this will face the full force of the law.
“I stand with Jewish Londoners, today and always,” he said.
The pro-Palestinian rally featured angry condemnation of Israeli military actions in Gaza, which they view as occupation. Meanwhile, pro-Israel demonstrators mourned recent casualties and emphasized Hamas’s role in instigating unrest.
As emotions run high, the Metropolitan Police is on alert.
Londoners will continue to see officers on the streets, in our communities across London in the days to come following days to reassure and protect, the Metropolitan Police’s statement added.
More protests are scheduled in London by both sides through the week. A huge pro-Palestinian rally is to take place in front of the BBC building on Oxford Street.
(With inputs from ANI)