Violent protests erupt on the streets of Britain as 150,000 march through cities demanding 'The state of Israel must go'

Palestine march London UK

More than 100,000 pro-Palestinian protestors took to the streets of London on Saturday

Richard Jeffries

By Richard Jeffries

Published: 21/10/2023

- 18:54

Updated: 21/10/2023

- 21:03

Police clash with pro-Palestinian protestors as violence erupts after day of mass protests - watch video in full below

Up to 150,000 people have taken to streets across the UK in support of Palestine and opposing Israel's response to the Hamas terror attack.

The Metropolitan Police said at least 100,000 took part in a pro-Palestine march in central London alone on Saturday, with other major rallies held in Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast and Birmingham.

But as the protests continued into the evening some marchers in London clashed with police - as you can see in our exclusive video below - leading to several arrests. In ugly scenes, several protestors were pinned to the ground by riot police as the mass marches threatened to descend into violence.

In Trafalgar Square, fireworks were thrown at officers. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Two arrests have been made for offences under the Explosives Act 1875."

It added that a small demonstration remained at the gates to Downing Street.

Earlier, yet more people had protested outside the BBC’s MediaCity headquarters in Salford, Greater Manchester, over its reporting of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Gaza Strip has been blockaded and bombarded by Israel after its Hamas rulers launched a series of terrorist raids on October 7.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians attacked in the October 7 attacks. Over 4,100 people have since been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.





Thousands gathered at Marble Arch in central London for Saturday’s march, clutching signs emblazoned with “Freedom for Palestine” and “Stop Bombing Gaza”.

Palestine Gaza march protest UK

The huge march in London saw police struggle to cope with the vast numbers


Chants included “Judaism yes, Zionism no, the state of Israel must go”, and “5, 6, 7, 8, Israel is a terrorist state”.

Protesters also chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, despite controversy around the slogan’s meaning.

Pro-Palestine Protests on streets of London [Credit: @IncMonocle]

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has previously branded the slogan antisemitic and claimed that it is “widely understood” to call for the destruction of Israel.

Jewish groups including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust have asked prosecutors to clarify if chanting the slogan is a criminal offence.

However, those who defend the slogan describe it as a “long-standing protest chant” that calls for a homeland for the Palestinian people.

A small group of pro-Palestinian protesters held a separate demonstration in central London on Saturday calling for “Muslim armies” to rescue the people of Palestine.

The protest was organised by controversial Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir – which means 'Party of Liberation' and first emerged in Britain in the 1980s.

The group of around 100 people stood on Balfour Mews, just off the street from the path of the main protest.

Speakers addressed the crowd in Arabic and a large banner read “Muslim armies, rescue the people of Palestine”.

London Palestine protests

The protestors in London took to Trafalgar Square and climbed on the famous plinths


Police in the capital were stretched, with the size of the march taking many by surprise. The Met was also forced to maintain a large police presence around the Israeli embassy, with more than 20 police vans and dozens of officers in riot gear patrolling the streets.

There were other marches in support of Palestine across the UK on Saturday, including a small protest outside Windsor Castle.

Palestinian flags were also spotted at Anfield during the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton.

In Salford, the BBC was accused of “bias” in its coverage of the conflict.Martin Odoni, from Eccles, who attended the rally, said: “I’m Jewish and every time Israel commits an atrocity it claims it’s doing it in the name of Jewish people.

“I think it’s my duty to come out here and show, actually, a lot of Jews do not support what Israel is doing. An awful lot of us are not Zionist at all.

“When they’re massacring Palestinians I more than don’t approve, I utterly condemn it.”

On his criticism of the BBC, he added: “Well, look at the headlines they put up.

“When Israelis are killed they say these Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

“When Palestinians get killed, it’s Palestinians died when Israel attacked.

“There’s a blatant bias in the way the BBC reports these events and somebody’s got to tell them.”

Uk protests Israel Belfast

In Belfast, protestors carried an Israeli flag covered in 'bloody' handprints


The BBC has also been been criticised over its use of language to describe Hamas and its coverage of the immediate aftermath of the bombing of a hospital in Gaza City.

BBC director general Tim Davie met the Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl and its chief executive Michael Wegier on Friday to discuss their “outrage” at Hamas being described as militants instead of terrorists.

The Board of Deputies, which describes itself as the voice of the Jewish community in Britain, later said the BBC had confirmed it is no longer the corporation’s practice to call Hamas militants, but instead is describing the group as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the UK Government and others, or simply as Hamas.

The BBC has been approached for comment.

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