On Saturday, 250 thousand demonstrators marched through London on what was one of the biggest of the national Palestine protests so far.

But the organisers are now demanding to meet with Metropolitan police commissioner Mark Rowley after both protestors and stewards were subjected to frightening abuse, insult and provocation from a pro-Israel counter protest.

Head stewards representing the six organisations involved in the Palestine marches were horrified to discover pro-Israeli protestors, who police had assured them would be behind barriers well away from the march, had been allowed to assemble directly on the agreed route, with only a space of three meters between them and hundreds of thousands of people trying to pass through. Many of the counter protestors were holding placards accusing marchers of being ‘rape supporters’.

Only the sheer determination of the line of stewards to stand firm in creating a barrier against the counterprotest for the hours it took for the main demonstration to pass through Piccadilly Circus prevented a serious incident.

But in doing so, as reported by numerous stewards, march attendees and legal observers they were screamed at, had phones shoved in their faces and a number of the young women stewards, many of them muslims, were directly threatened. 

The organisers stopped the march for 15 minutes to try to negotiate with the police a way for the demonstration to proceed safely, including suggesting a short diversion to avoid confrontation. They were refused.

In a letter to the Met, the organisers said:

“The treatment of the pro-Israel counter protest by the police showed a completely different approach to that of the pro-Palestine demonstration. 

“As a result the whole demonstration had to run a frightening gauntlet of abuse, insult and provocation, the aim of which was clearly to create a physical confrontation. We want an explanation of how and why this was allowed to happen and an undertaking that future counter protests will be properly policed.

“We have reissued our request to meet with Sir Mark Rowley. He has met with representatives of pro-Israel organisations hostile to our protests but has refused to meet with us, even though we represent the majority opinion in Britain on the issue of Israel’s war on the people of Palestine.”

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Palestinian Forum in Britain
Friends of AL-Aqsa
Stop the War Coalition
Muslim Association of Britain
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament