Thousands of people have joined a pro-Palestine protest in London calling for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
Police estimated around 100,000 demonstrators gathered in the capital, as other rallies have been organised elsewhere in the UK including Manchester and Glasgow.
A suspect was arrested on Whitehall after an officer was assaulted and the officer is on their way to hospital with an update on their condition expected later, the Metropolitan Police said.
Protesters young and old marched from Embankment and across Westminster Bridge waving Palestine flags and holding various placards, some saying “free Palestine”, “stop bombing Gaza” and “end Israeli apartheid”.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, was one of the chants heard from the crowds – despite controversy surrounding the slogan.
For some, it is a call to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. To others, including many Jewish groups, it is an antisemitic slogan – calling for a state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, which would wipe Israel off the map.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the chant was antisemitic, claiming it is “widely understood” to call for the destruction of Israel.
A police horse knocked over a woman during the protest after it was startled by fireworks near the Houses of Parliament. She appeared to be fine when helped back up.
The route of the demonstration traverses Waterloo Bridge, the Strand, Whitehall and Parliament Street.
Ahead of today’s event, the Metropolitan Police said there was no place for hate crime.
They said they would have 2,000 officers on duty across the city, adding that interventions are expected if protesters are heard to use the word “jihad” – a word with numerous interpretations including struggle or effort but also holy war.
They decided not to arrest a man filmed chanting words including “jihad” at a pro-Palestine protest last weekend after assessing the video and failing to identify any offences, with specialist Crown Prosecution Service lawyers reaching the same conclusion.
Authorities have also imposed a separate condition which prevents protesters gathering outside the Israeli Embassy in South Kensington.
A protest shrouded in green and red smoke – Emma Birchley
“Free, free Palestine” echoed along the Embankment as tens of thousands marched in solidarity with those suffering in Gaza.
They turned onto Westminster Bridge in a haze of green and red flare smoke… the same colours as the Palestinian flags waving in the autumn breeze as far as the eye could see.
This was a crowd of all ages, backgrounds, nationalities and faiths.
Among the placards that read “freedom for Palestine” and “ceasefire now” there were others too. “This Jew stands with Gaza. End the occupation” said one.
The pre-planned route was close to 2.5 miles long bringing much of central London to a standstill.
So huge was the crowd that as the front of the march arrived at the final destination of Parliament Square, at the back they were still passing the official starting point.
It was predicted the protest would be big with thousands of police officers on duty in case of trouble.
But for the vast majority this was about peaceful protest while making sure their message was heard loud and clear.
Meanwhile police are looking for three women and a man who attended pro-Palestinian protests in London – three of which had images on them of paragliders.
Paragliders were used by Hamas militants during their deadly surprise attack on Israel earlier this month.
Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory strikes by Israel.