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Hundreds gather for London pro-Palestine march as Gaza braces for invasion

More than 1,000 officers have been deployed by the Metropolitan Police for the march.

Hundreds of people have gathered for a pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London, amid police warnings that anyone showing support for Hamas could face arrest.

More than 1,000 officers have been deployed by the Metropolitan Police for the march, which saw supporters gather to express solidarity with Palestine as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate.

Protesters gathered outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House in Portland Place ahead of the march this afternoon.

Palestine flags and supportive placards were waved as people chanted, with Metropolitan Police and community support officers stationed nearby.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Protesters gather for a march for Palestine in London (James Manning/PA)

The BBC’s headquarters in London was earlier targeted and daubed in red paint.

The broadcaster has faced criticism from senior Conservatives in recent days for maintaining its editorial stance not to describe Hamas militants as terrorists.

But the Metropolitan Police said the incident has so far not been linked to any protest group.

The gathering comes as Palestinians began a mass exodus from northern Gaza after Israel’s military told them to evacuate ahead of an expected ground invasion.

The UN, human rights groups and others have been among those expressing deep concern about the impact of Israeli action on civilians, as the death toll continues to grow amid airstrikes and a siege on the territory.

As the conflict deepens, an RAF flight left Israel on Friday night as part of a UK Government effort to get British nationals to safety.

A plane carried passengers to Cyprus, with the air force assisting the Foreign Office amid a limited availability of commercial flights.

Three Britons are confirmed to have died during last weekend’s assault on Israel, but reports have suggested at least 17 could be among the casualties.

The UK Government has been steadfast in support of Israel, with ministers also calling on police to use the “full force of the law” against shows of support for Hamas or bids to intimidate the UK’s Jewish community.

Waving a proscribed flag in support of Hamas or other proscribed organisations at the protest will be an offence.

The Home Secretary also suggested this week that waving Palestinian flags could in some contexts be seen as illegitimate.

Amid concerns about the scale of the Israeli response, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday that the country has “every right to defend itself” from Hamas attacks but stressed that civilian safety must be “paramount in our minds”.

A Section 12 of the Public Order Act will be in force from midday covering the demonstration route, which starts at Portland Place and finishes in Whitehall.

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