Pro-Palestine protesters lay effigies of dead babies in Trafalgar Square

Amid a fourth weekend of protests in the capital, the Chief Rabbi has criticised some protesters for standing beside more extremist elements, ITV News' Tom Sheldrick reports

Demonstrators laid mock body bags in Trafalgar Square in protest at the deaths of more than 3,700 Palestinian children killed in the past three weeks.

The baby-sized effigies, wrapped up in bloodied white cloth, were placed by one of the fountains as tens of thousands of protesters marched to the London landmark on Saturday.

Some demonstrators climbed on top of the square’s famous fountains as the mostly peaceful group waved flags and banners and let off fireworks.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and comedian Alexei Sayle were among those who addressed the crowd on a stage set up in the square. Other speakers led chants of “free, free Palestine” and were cheered by the large crowd.

At least one protester at Trafalgar Square was seen carrying a banner which read “Let’s keep the world clean” with a picture of an Israeli flag being thrown into a bin.

Demonstrators were protesting at the 3,800 Palestinian children killed in the past three weeks Credit: PA

A similar banner displayed at a protest in Warsaw was condemned by the Israeli ambassador to Poland as “blatant antisemitism”. Other protesters chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, despite controversy around the slogan’s meaning.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has previously branded the slogan antisemitic and claimed that it is “widely understood” to call for the destruction of Israel. However, pro-Palestinian protesters have contested this definition.

Shortly after 7pm, the Metropolitan Police said it had issued a dispersal order "to disperse a group on Trafalgar Square who have been firing fireworks into crowds and towards police officers".

Save the Children has said one child is being killed every 10 minutes in Gaza Credit: PA

This evening the force said it had arrested 29 people for inciting racial hatred, other racially motivated crimes, violence and assaulting a police officer.

Investigators made use of retrospective facial recognition technology to make some arrests. In one case, a man suspected of making anti-Semitic comments during a speech was arrested after being identified on social media.

Two further people were arrested on suspicion of breaching section 12 of the Terrorism Act after they were seen displaying a banner appearing to support a proscribed organisation.

Commander Karen Findlay, who is responsible for policing in London this week, said: “The vast majority of people demonstrated peacefully during an extremely busy day in central London, with protests in a number of locations requiring a policing presence. “It is disappointing that various splinter groups were again responsible for behaviour which has no place in London and we are determined to deal with this robustly. Fireworks were directed towards officers and four officers were injured. “Today, we dealt with breakaway groups from the main protest quickly. Officers intervened to prevent further disruption, using the full range of powers at their disposal. This effective intervention ensured Londoners were able to go about their business.

Protesters released red flare smoke into the air at Trafalgar Square Credit: PA

While some protesters marched on Trafalgar Square, others gathered for a sit-in at Charing Cross station on Saturday evening. Earlier in the day, 350 people staged a sit-in protest which shut down Oxford Circus. The demonstration stopped traffic during the shopping district’s busiest hours, following similar disruptive protests at major stations.

Activists also filled Waverley Station in Edinburgh with Palestinian flags, while a sit-in was also held at Glasgow Central Station.

The Metropolitan Police has said there will be a “sharper focus” on using social media and face recognition to detect criminal behaviour at protests in London this weekend.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, writing in the Times, said the lines between pro-Palestinian protesters and “those who support the brutal terrorism of Hamas” have become “badly blurred”. Sir Ephraim highlighted a Manchester protest with a banner showing support for “Palestinian resistance” and said there was no ambiguity in the words used. He wrote: “Did every person who attended that march truly wish to associate themselves with acts of such barbarity? I sincerely hope that they did not.

Thousands of protesters marched towards Trafalgar Square for the Stop the War coalition's call for a ceasefire. Credit: PA

“Nevertheless, it could not be clearer that, at the very least, the lines between those who wish only to advocate for the welfare of innocent Palestinians and those who support the brutal terrorism of Hamas have become badly blurred. “Those lines have remained blurred in the subsequent demonstrations, in which a minority have proudly displayed their extremism on their banners and in their chants, while the majority stand alongside them. “Similar lines have become blurred in the sermons being given in a minority of mosques, inciting hatred and even violence against Jews, while the majority of prominent Muslim clerics are silent.

"They are blurred on university campuses where a minority of students and lecturers are declaring their support for ‘intifada’ while the majority appear indifferent. It is imperative that we redraw these lines of moral clarity without delay.”

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