Met Police plead for organisers to call off plans for Armistice Day pro-Palestine protest

Met Police plead for organisers to call off plans for Armistice Day pro-Palestine protest

The UN’s top chief said Gaza was fast becoming a “graveyard for children” on Monday as the Met Police asked protesters set to stage a protest in London over Armistice Weekend to “urgently reconsider”.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that  the protection of civilians "must be paramount" as he called for a ceasefire.

“We must act now to find a way out of this brutal, awful, agonising dead end of destruction," Mr Guterres said.

It came as the Met Police issued a plea for pro-Palestinian protesters to reconsider a  planned demo in central London on Saturday.

The force said it had met organisers from a range of groups on Monday to discuss concerns about the march, although the planned route will not go past the Cenotaph.

Stop The War Coalition, which is one of six groups organising the demonstration, said they were "determined to go ahead" and described the Met's intervention as an attempt to deny their civil liberties.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said: "The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups is growing. This is of concern ahead of a significant and busy weekend in the capital.

"Our message to organisers is clear: Please, we ask you to urgently reconsider. It is not appropriate to hold any protests in London this weekend."

 (Israeli Army/AFP via Getty Image)
(Israeli Army/AFP via Getty Image)

Lindsey German, of Stop the War, said: "We met the police today and argued that we wanted to march and were determined to go ahead.

"We believe that this is a denial of our civil liberties and our freedom of expression. The brutal onslaught on Gaza is being protested across the world. We have had huge demos on Palestine and we continue to do so.

"We will not be silenced."

But Israeli President Isaac Herzog told TalkTV the planned march was "atrocious", adding: "I call upon all decent human beings to object to the march and ban it, because the symbol of that day is a symbol of victory.

"And it is a symbol of doing good, because when you fight evil, sometimes you have to fight. You have to fight evil in order to uproot evil."

Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, after the militants killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 hostages in a terror attack on October 7.

But concerns are rising for vulnerable civilians in the strip, who have been badly affected, with Mr Guterres saying: “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day.”

The comments drew anger from Israel's Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who wrote on social media: "Shame on you. More than 30 minors - among them a 9 month-old baby as well as toddlers and children who witnessed their parents being murdered in cold blood - are being held against their will in the Gaza Strip.

"Hamas is the problem in Gaza, not Israel's actions to eliminate this terrorist organization."

In London, rhe Met has said it will use “all powers and tactics" at their disposal to prevent any disruption at Saturday’s protest, including a power allowing the banning of a procession when there is a risk of serious disorder.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said police have the Government's “absolute and total backing" to maintain order at the protests.

Speaking to broadcasters on Monday, the Prime Minister said: "Remembrance Day is a time for national reflection.

"It is a time when I know the whole country will come together to pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.”

However, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, organiser of the planned demonstration, has pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph is located.

The planned route will take them from Hyde Park - about a mile from the Cenotaph - to the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.

In a statement, the protest organisers said: “We have made clear that we have no intention of marching on or near Whitehall, in order not to disrupt events at the Cenotaph.

“We are alarmed by members of the Government, including the Prime Minster, issuing statements suggesting that the march is a direct threat to the Cenotaph and designed to disrupt the Remembrance Day commemorations."

The Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, which is usually attended by members of the royal family, will take place on Saturday, with a two-minute silence at 11am.

Remembrance Sunday events will take place at the Cenotaph in Westminster the following day.

If Scotland Yard did decide to ban part of the procession under what is called a Section 13 order, it would have to seek approval from the Home Secretary to sign off on a ban.

Welcoming the Met's statement, Suella Braverman said: "The hate marchers need to understand that decent British people have had enough of these displays of thuggish intimidation and extremism."