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London rally: Thousands call for ceasefire in Gaza after UK abstained on UN vote

Protesters wave a giant Palestinian flag during a National March for Palestine in central London on December 9, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of people have joined a demonstration in London to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, after the UK chose to abstain on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution for an immediate ceasefire, which was vetoed by the United States.

The rally began at Bank Junction at midday Saturday, with demonstrators holding signs that read “Free Palestine” and “End the siege.”

Protesters also chanted: “One, two, three, four, occupation no more, five, six, seven, eight, Israel is a terrorist state.”

They also chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The Metropolitan Police said in a message on X that an exclusion zone is in place prohibiting any protesters from assembling around the Israeli embassy.

It said that protesters must stick to the agreed route, under Section 12 of the Public Order Act.

The protest comes after UK ambassador to the UN Dame Barbara Woodward told the Security Council meeting on Friday that Britain abstained on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

She also said that Britain backs "further and longer pauses" to get aid to Palestinians, who have been under Israel's relentless attacks from air, sea, and land for more than eight weeks.

Israeli forces have so far killed at least 17,700 people, according to the Gaza health ministry. Some 70 percent of those killed are women and children. The number of people who have been wounded also reached 48,780.

"The crimes and genocide against the people of Gaza are beyond any description... Ending Palestinian existence with American and European support is inhuman," ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said Saturday.

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