Pro-Palestinian protesters stage national day of action across the UK as rail stations ban protests

Arrests were made at railway stations as around 100 pro-Palestinian rallies took place across the UK in a day of national action, as ITV News' Leyla Hayes reports

Pro-Palestinian protesters are staging a day of national action with demonstrations and marches taking place across the country.

In London, 10 rallies were planned for Saturday, including in in Islington, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets.

An order has been put in place by the British Transport Police (BTP), banning protests at all of London's major railway stations – but that hasn't stopped demonstrators from defying the restriction.

Around 100 protesters sat in the centre of London’s Waterloo station, chanting “Free, free Palestine”; “Sit down, join us”; and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Demonstrators were removed from the station by police, with at least two people carried from the scene, with BTP saying at least five protesters were arrested.

A group of demonstrators then made their way to Westminster Bridge where they sat in the road before moving to Parliament Square, the Metropolitan Police said. The force said on X, formerly Twitter: “We believe the group in Parliament Square is a mix of pro-Palestinian protesters and JSO (Just Stop Oil) activists.

"We have arrested a prominent JSO activist from within the group. We have a significant number of officers ready to respond if there is further disruption in the road.”

People demonstrate outside the constituency office of Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, in northwest London. Credit: PA

Shortly after 2.30pm, BTP said a group of around 200 protesters had arrived at London Bridge Station, prompting officers to put a cordon in place.

Five minutes later the force announced on social media that the group had left the area.

Section 14a orders prohibiting protests will be in place between 10am and 11pm at Waterloo, Charing Cross, King’s Cross, London Bridge, Euston, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria and St Pancras.

Police officers line up on the concourse of Waterloo station after pro-Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in. Credit: PA

Footage circulating social media showed a small crowd sat on the floor in Manchester Victoria Station, while the force confirmed another group of around 25 had done the same at Leeds station shortly after 2pm.

Meanwhile in Glasgow, an estimated 18,000 people turned out for a pro-Palestinian event, organised by a coalition of groups called the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee.

Protesters had been urged to write their names on their hands as a gesture of solidarity with the population of Gaza, who have used the method so they can be identified and buried with relatives if they are killed.

Politicians from the SNP, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Greens addressed the crowd at Glasgow Green before demonstrators marched through relentless rain into the city centre.

A spokeswoman for organisers Stop The War Coalition said that Saturday’s rallies come ahead of a national demonstration planned for next weekend.

“Groups around the country are organising local rallies and marches to basically build for the national demonstration that has been called for next Saturday,” she said.

The spokeswoman added that most of the rallies will have speakers, and some will still march.

Protesters gather outside the office of Harrow East MP Bob Blackman. Credit: PA

“I think most of them have speakers from various organisations that are involved in the main marches, and then trade unionists,” she said.

“Some of them have trade unionists as speakers, and some of them are marching, like the one in Highbury.

“We are marching to (Labour shadow attorney general) Emily Thornberry’s office from Highbury and Islington station, but some of them are static, so it depends really.”

Previous weekends have seen thousands of protesters and counter-protesters converging on the capital.

Police offiers detain a protester at Waterloo. Credit: PA

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the rallies were organised to show that “ordinary people” support a ceasefire.

“This Saturday, ordinary people across the UK will come out again to show the vast majority of them support a ceasefire,” he said.

“They will show their solidarity with Palestinians who are suffering unimaginable harm.

“They will also demand the root causes are not forgotten – Israel’s decades-long military occupation of Palestinian territories and its system of apartheid against Palestinians.

“We demand justice for the Palestinian people – their right to self-determination and to live in freedom, safety, and with full human rights.”

The Metropolitan Police said a “significant” policing operation is planned for the capital this weekend.

It will deploy officers in areas “with significant Jewish or Muslim communities”, which the service said “continue to experience increased uncertainty and fear in light of events in the Middle East and their impact here in London”.

Temporary Commander Karen Findlay, who is leading the operation, said: “We are here to ensure that people can exercise their right to protest but to make sure that is done lawfully, and that unreasonable disruption to the lives of other Londoners is kept to a minimum.

“Our officers will intervene swiftly where they see offences taking place. In particular, I want to reiterate that there is no place for hate in London. Hate crime will not be tolerated.

“Regrettably, while the majority of protesters coming out in recent weeks have been peaceful, we have continued to see people taking part in offensive chanting or intentionally carrying placards that cross the line from political statements into racially or religiously aggravated offences.”

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