Pro-Palestine protesters cheer as Corbyn accuses Israel of ‘war crimes’

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Pro-Palestine protesters cheer as Corbyn accuses Israel of ‘war crimes’

Thousands of people have taken part in a pro-Palestine demo in central London, just one week after the Hamas terrorist atrocities in Israel

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Jeremy Corbyn at pro-Palestine demo
Jeremy Corbyn at pro-Palestine demo

Ten of thousands of pro-Palestine supporters have attended a demonstration in central London at which Jeremy Corbyn was loudly cheered as he accused Israel of committing “war crimes” in Gaza.

Protesters arrived for the demo, which took place exactly one week after Hamas terrorists murdered, raped and butchered men, women and children in southern Israel, holding banners including one stating “Unconditional Support Palestinian Resistance Against The Zionist Entity”.

There were regular chants of “From The River To The Sea as the protest set off from outside the BBC’s headquarters in the capital.

Others on the demo raised placards branding Israel a “racist” and an “apartheid state”.

Pro-Palestine demo in central London

Sky News also later showed footage of a man who had joined the protest being urged not to display what appeared to be a Hamas flag.

Another post on social media showed two individuals with what appeared to be images of paragliders stuck to the back of their jackets – but it was unclear if either person was aware of this.

Police later confirmed making 15 arrests and nine officers were treated for injuries sustained after clashes broke out.

Hamas sent terrorists on paragliders last weekend as they carried out their massacre.

Jewish News also witnessed groups of males who covered their faces with balaclavas to hide their identity while raising Islamist flags. Police were later seen ordering them to remove their face coverings to identify themselves.

Thousands of Palestinian flags were waved as speakers mocked the suggestion made by home secretary Suella Braverman last week that waving the flag could be a criminal offence.

Flares were also set off in the colours of the Palestinian flag as speakers at the demo said Israel was now carrying out a “second Nakba” with its military response to last Saturday’s terrorist atrocities.

No-one on the march appeared to be holding a banner condemning the Hamas terror group’s actions, although as the protest made its way to Whitehall, close to Downing Street,  a one minutes silence in memory of all killings in the region was properly observed.

More than one thousand  officers were deployed by the Metropolitan Police for the march, with warnings that anyone showing support for Hamas,  a designated terror organisation in the UK, faced arrest.

Officers confirmed to Jewish News they had closely scrutinised a number of flags raised during the protest to see whether they contained statements that breached the law.

Banner at the central London demo

In a letter sent to chief constables in England and Wales earlier this week, Braverman had also told senior officers to consider whether chants such as “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” should be understood as an expression of violence.

But the home secretary’s comments only seemed to encourage protesters to use the chant with increased frequency.

Senior lawyers have told Jewish News that because “from the river to the sea” is open to different interpretations, it would be “extremely difficult” to press charges against most who continue to use the chant.

Video footage of social media from the demo appeared to show two men engaging in the Khaybar Khaybar Ya Yahud chant – a reference to a massacre against Jews in 628 CE.

In his speech delivered from a stage set up by protest organisers in Whitehall, Corbyn condemned the “murder and killings” including the “young people who died in the Negev desert” and “the young people killed by Israeli forces in Gaza at the moment” –  but he once again failed to explicitly single out Hamas for condemnation over last weekend’s terrorist outrage.

“It is right to condemn the killings that have happened, it is right to condemn the targeting of civilians, which is of course a war crime within international law,” said Corbyn.

But he added:”It is also right to condemn the occupation of Palestine by Israeli military forces.”

Accepting that “terrible things” had taken place, Corbyn said:”There are many who say that nobody should be here today, because they’ll be condoning terrible things.

“None of us are here to condone killing, none of us are here to condone occupation, none of us are here to allow this assault on the people of Gaza and the people of the West Bank.”

Ending his speech he said: “To the political leaders of this country, do not condone war crimes…. if you believe in international law and human rights then you must condemn what is happening now in Gaza by the Israeli army.”

Saturday’s protest had organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, groups.

Protester raises banner at central London protest

One protester, Marsha, admitted to Jewish News that “last week’s killings hadn’t helped the Palestinian cause.” But she then insisted:”We need to blame those really responsible for creating the problem, and that’s Britain. The Balfour Declaration is the reason we are where we are today.”Too many people in Britain don’t understand that.”

Another male, who said his name was Yusaf, said he “did not want to comment” when asked for his thoughts on last weekend’s Hamas massacre. “All I know is that Israel is committing genocide again. We need to call that out.”

The pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice For Labour Group were also in attendance. Katy Colley, a pro-Palestine campaigner from Hastings, told reporters covering the demo she was Jewish and that “Palestinians have been screaming for decades. No one has listened.”

Similar marches were also held in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

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