Tens of thousands of campaigners have marched through London to protest at operation protective edge, the Israeli military campaign against Hamas. Organisers had expected around 20,000 people to attend but many more came on the day, leading them to claim numbers touched 100,000.
The crowd marched down Whitehall and onto the Israeli Embassy on Kensington High Street. Outside the Embassy they were addressed by a number of far left anti-Israeli speakers including Diane Abbott MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP. The protest was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is growing in popularity in Britain and his 300,000 ‘likes’ on its UK facebook page.
Also in attendance were the British Muslim Initiative, Stop the War, CND, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al Aqsa, the National Union of Teachers and the NUS Black Students Campaign. The London demonstration came on the heels of numerous protests Thursday and Friday worldwide, including Cairo, Istanbul, Cape Town, Berlin, New York and Washington. Many of these have turned violent.
Scotland saw 1,500 activists take to the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow, there was also a major protest in Dublin. These protests are thought to be smaller as the cities in question have far smaller Muslim populations than London. The 2011 census shows that 12.4 percent of the London population are Muslim, rising to around 30 – 40 percent in Tower Hamlets and Newham.
The Times of Israel reported that one speaker In London shouted from the podium “from the river to the sea”, a reference to the elimination of Israel altogether. The crowd responded by shouting, “Palestine will be free”. Protests across the world were sparked by the continued conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
In military terms, Israel is doing well, having suffered far fewer casualties than the Palestinians with Haaretz reporting that whilst 300 Palestinians have been killed, Israel has suffered just seven casualties. But in public relations terms, supporters of the Palestinians around the world are exploiting the conflict to galvanise support.