Thousands join protest against Gaza violence

Thousands of people have gathered in central London to march in solidarity with the people of Palestine amid the ongoing conflict with Israel.

Organisers say “immediate action” is needed by the UK Government to help end the “brutal” violence against the Palestinian people.

At midday on Saturday, demonstrators arrived at Hyde Park near Marble Arch to march to the Israeli embassy, holding banners and chanting.

Among those expected to address the crowds are former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Zarah Sultana.

People gather at Marble Arch in central London
People gather at Marble Arch in central London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Thousands of people marched through Hyde Park chanting “free, free Palestine”, and holding banners calling for an end to the bombing of the territory by Israeli forces.

Huge crowds of protesters then arrived outside the gates of the Israeli embassy in Kensington.

A temporary stage has been set up on Kensington High Street and organisers have urged people to keep moving down the road as numbers continue to swell.

Dozens of police officers are lining nearby streets.

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The Metropolitan Police said: “Officers are engaging with a group of people who have gathered for a demonstration in central London this afternoon.

“A policing plan is in place to ensure everybody is kept safe and to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

It comes as the Associated Press (AP) reported that an Israeli air strike destroyed a high-rise building that housed the AP, Al-Jazeera and other media in the Gaza Strip.

The AP said the air strike came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building.

Palestine solidarity march
Demonstrators walk through Kensington as they make their way to the Israeli embassy (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The news agency said there was no immediate explanation as to why the building was targeted.

Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee from their homes after a week of sustained conflict.

Since Monday night, Palestinian militant group Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, whose military responded by barraging the Gaza Strip with tank fire and air strikes.

At least 126 people have been killed in Gaza, including 31 children and 20 women.

In Israel seven people have been killed, including a six-year-old boy and a soldier.

The demonstration in London has been organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Stop The War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain.

Palestine solidarity march
Organisers of the march want the UK Government to take action to help end the violence in Gaza and the West Bank (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A spokesperson for the organisers said: “It is vital that the UK Government takes immediate action.

“It must stop allowing Israel’s brutal violence against and oppression of the Palestinian people to go unpunished.

“The bombardment of Gaza which is killing civilians including children is a war crime.

“The UK Government is complicit in these acts as long as it continues to offer Israel military, diplomatic and financial support.”