Fury after vandals graffiti ‘God Save Gaza’ on historic Field Marshal Haig statue – as 100,000 pro-Palestinian protesters marched on London
- More than 100,000 people marched in London today and two people arrested
- Read more about the London Palestine marches HERE
Pro-Palestine protesters have defaced the statue of First World War commander Field Marshal Douglas Haig by scrawling ‘God Save Gaza’ across it with red paint.
There was a huge police presence in London today as more than 100,000 demonstrators arrived in the capital on Saturday.
Some even let off fireworks and flares on a statue of David Lloyd George and police confirmed that a man was arrested on Whitehall after an officer was ‘struck in the head with an object’ as images showed Met Police officers clashing with protesters in the capital as the mood turned sour.
Another man was arrested in Waterloo Road just after 1.30pm after he was heard shouting racist remarks and was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and making threats to kill. He remains in custody.
Some people were also heard chanting about being martyrs for the Al Aqsa Mosque and others were chanting ‘Intifada, Intifada, Intifada!’.
Graffiti on the Field Marshal Earl Haig Memorial following a pro-Palestine march organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign
The graffiti was daubed on a Grade-II listed statue of the commander of British forces in World War One
READ MORE: London’s day of protest: Dramatic moment police arrest man ‘for attack that left officer in hospital’
The Intifada relates to two popular uprisings of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from between 1987 and 1993 and also 2000 to 2005.
It is believed that more than 5,000 Palestinians and some 1,400 Israelis were killed in the uprisings.
Meanwhile, the Haig Memorial statue was a target of graffiti, with the words ‘God save Gaza’ daubed on the Grade II-listed statue.
Haig, who died in 1928, was the commander of the British forces at the Somme and Ypres during the First World War, and his role has made him one of the most controversial military figures of the last century.
He eventually won a battle of attrition against Germany on the Western Front.
But he became a much-maligned historical figure for his controversial strategies which led to excessive casualties of British troops under his command.
He founded the Royal British Legion Scotland and the Earl Haig Fund – now known as Poppyscotland – in 1921.
People reacted with anger at the graffiti with one person saying online: ‘How does a statue of Field Marshal. Douglas Haig have anything to do with Gaza?
‘Graffiti on historical statues/buildings is not going to generate more support for Palestine.’
Another said: ‘Were the Met Police not protecting this monument? Very difficult for your forces today. You should’ve been given back up.’
And another added: ‘These British symbols should be protected all the time.’
Many of the protesters were peaceful but there were instances of people letting off fireworks, throwing objects at police and reportedly shouting racist slogans
Around 1,000 officers policed the event, which saw two confirmed arrests.
One man was detained on Whitehall after a police officer was assaulted during clashes with protesters close to Downing Street, the Metropolitan Police said.
Punches and kicks were thrown and officers ordered the protesters to move away as a man was taken to the floor and carried away to chants of ‘let him go’.
The force said the officer suffered a laceration to the head and was receiving hospital treatment following the incident.
Another man was arrested in Waterloo Road on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and making threats to kill.
Police also issued an appeal to identify two women in connection with an alleged hate crime incident in Trafalgar Square.
Some 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.
More than 100,000 people turned out onto the streets of London on Saturday
British Transport Police officers are surrounded by hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters outside Embankment station
A man was arrested on Whitehall after an officer was ‘struck in the head with an object’ – witnesses claim the weapon was a megaphone
Protesters had gathered at noon before marching through the streets of Westminster, bringing traffic to a halt.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the politicians who addressed them on a stage in Parliament Square.
He said: ‘The world’s nations voted at the United Nations last night in the General Assembly by an overwhelming majority to demand a ceasefire.
‘It’s not much to ask, a ceasefire, when children are being killed by weapons coming through the rooms of their homes.
Demonstrators attend a rally in solidarity with Israel in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
Clashes occur between protesters and riot police during an unauthorized demonstration in solidarity with Palestine at the Place de la Republique in Paris
‘It is in eternal stain that the British Government abstained on that vote.’
A Section 60 and Section 60AA authority was later put in place until midnight, giving police stop and search powers in the London boroughs of the City of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.
A Section 60 AA requires a person to remove items that might be used to conceal their identity, such as masks.
Protests also took place in Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast and other cities.
Also, Pro-Palestinian protests have broken out across the world, with demonstrators in Turkey, Indonesia, France, Malaysia, Sweden, Germany and Kyrgyzstan demanding for an end to the onslaught on Gaza.
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