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Four arrests, including one on suspicion of terror-related offence, at protest

Four people were arrested, including one man on suspicion of a terrorism-related offence, at a pro-Palestinian protest in central London, the Metropolitan Police has said.

More than 200,000 people took part in the demonstration on Saturday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, according to estimates by organisers, when crowds marched from Russell Square to Trafalgar Square.

The demonstration, organised in part by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, heard speeches from former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and The Crown actor Khalid Abdalla, among others.

The Met said officers arrested one man on the Strand in relation to inviting support for a proscribed organisation.

Three further arrests were made at the march – one person was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and two others were arrested on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm and distress.

The force also said they also policed a pro-Israel counter-protest in central London on Saturday.

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, introduced by organisers as “the people’s prime minister”, criticised the UK Government for continuing the “grisly, ghastly arms trade with Israel”.

He said: “What we’re watching on real time global television is the destruction of life, wanton destruction of life in Gaza.

“And our governments still can’t bring themselves to utter the words permanent ceasefire, still can’t bring themselves to stop the grisly, ghastly arms trade with Israel and the supply of weapons that goes from factories in France, in Germany, in this country and the USA, which are killing people in Gaza.”

Jeremy Corbyn at pro-Palestine protest
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for an end to arms trading with Israel (Victoria Jones/PA)

Mr Corbyn continued: “And when (US) President Biden announces that he wants more aid to go into Gaza, well, President Biden, it’s your planes that are bombing the aid when it arrives in Gaza.

“It is your military support that is causing so much of the problems.”

He addressed a raucous crowd in Trafalgar Square, with people waving Palestinian flags and signs that read Stop Gaza Genocide, Stop The Massacre and Free Palestine.

Abdalla, 43, who played Dodi Fayed in the Netflix series The Crown, said he attended a pro-Palestinian protest when he was three and took his children with him on Saturday.

The British-Egyptian actor said: “While it fills me with pride to have them here, and stand in front of them demanding a free Palestine, I dream of a world in which this is not the legacy we pass on to them.

Khalid Abdalla speaking at pro-Palestine protest
Khalid Abdalla went to a pro-Palestine protest when he was three (Victoria Jones/PA)

“I do not dream of a world in which in 20 let alone 40 years, my children stand here in Trafalgar Square demanding justice for the Palestinians, demanding an end to the occupation.”

Abdalla added: “We cannot allow this to continue for another generation.”

He called pro-Palestinian demonstrations “love marches”.

The crowd chanted in between speeches.

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, accused British politicians of “paying lip service” to a ceasefire.

Pro-Palestine protester crying
Crowds chanted ‘Free, free Palestine’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

She told the crowd: “We’ve heard British politicians talking about a ceasefire, but I would say if you really want a ceasefire now, call for a ceasefire in Parliament, vote for it.

“Vote to end arms sales to Israel, stop bombing Yemen, re-fund UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) and join in action in the international courts for the prosecution of war crimes.

“That is what British politicians would do if they weren’t just paying lip service to a ceasefire.”

Labour MP for Leeds East Richard Burgon made reference in his speech to investigations he has been conducting with colleagues and experts into reports of Israeli war crimes.

He said: “We will soon be presenting that war crime evidence to the international criminal courts.”

The protest was held on the anniversary of Land Day, which organisers said commemorates the events that took place on March 30 1976 in which six Palestinians were killed protesting against Israeli land policies.