Pro-Palestinian Protesters Block Bridge Outside UK Parliament

LONDON — Pro-Palestinian protesters blocked roads outside the British parliament in London on Saturday, demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war and clashing with police who prevented them from marching across Westminster Bridge. 

London, like other Western cities, has seen regular and sometimes large demonstrations calling for Israel to halt the bombardment of Gaza triggered by a surprise October 7 attack by Hamas militants that Israeli officials say killed more than 1,200 people.  

The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry says 22,722 people have been killed in Israel’s bombardment. 

Videos posted on social media showed police blocking protesters’ access to the bridge, and a Reuters reporter said there had been several small scuffles. Unable to fully access the bridge, where they had planned to unfurl banners, protesters instead occupied the surrounding roads. 

Police said that they had imposed a legal order limiting the location of the protests and that by 3 p.m. people had begun to disperse. Those who refused to comply with an order to leave could be arrested, police said. 

Saturday’s action was smaller than previous mass marches but came two days before the British parliament returns to work after its Christmas break. The protest was designed to push politicians to adopt a harder stance toward Israel. 

So far, Britain has stopped short of calling for an immediate cease-fire, with foreign minister David Cameron arguing that any such agreement could be unsustainable and may worsen violence without a plan for longer term peace. 

Most previous protests in London have been coordinated with police and remained largely peaceful, but police said the organizers of Saturday’s protests had refused to share details of their plans. 

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