Several thousand protesters attended the event in Kensington High Street near the Israeli Embassy at 5.30 on Tuesday evening.
Police closed off the High Street outside the Palace Gate private road leading to the Israeli Embassy which is on Crown Estate land where protest is banned. Behind the gates and the double fortified barriers could be seen several police vans guarding the building, while on this side was a small stage and a crowd of several thousand peaceful protesters.
The protest, supported by a wide range of organisations including anti-war activists, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Palestinians. The crowd was notable for its wide mix of ages and ethnicities, and one of the speakers commented on how the crowd was a shining example of love and unity, in contrast to the heavily defended Zionist outpost of hatred beyond the gates.
Despite the searing heat, protesters shouted energetic slogans and the atmosphere was a mix of righteous anger and buoyant solidarity mixed with a little dark humour among the placards.
The police deployed several “Police Liaison Officers” who showed their true colours by lurking at the edges, concentrating on their true role of intelligence gathering rather than actually doing much liaising.
As I left early, I came across an interesting sight. An Israeli Jew was handing out leaflets, claiming that the protest was anti-Israel because fewer than 1000 Palestinians dead were attracting bigger protest numbers than many more Egyptians, Syrian or Iraqi deaths. Though based on obviously false logic, he was eloquently trying to persuade a group of young Palestinian supporters who had gathered around him.
What I witnessed over the next few minutes, was a remarkable display of street debate with no sign of menace, despite their diametrically opposed positions. Maps were flourished and argued over, the history of Israel and Palestine was discussed, documents were referenced, and connected and logical argument took place, with each side listening and trying to persuade the other. A little gem of human interaction providing some hope in such an indescribably hate-filled era.
With more than 500 Palestinians killed in this latest Israeli onslaught (around 80% civilians and more than 100 children murdered), another national protest has been called for Saturday 26th July. It will start at 12 noon at the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, and then will march to a rally in Parliament Square due to take place at 2.30.