The Metropolitan Police will use facial recognition and social media ‘analytics’ as part of a ‘sharper’ approach to policing a pro-Palestine ‘Day of Action’ tomorrow.
More than 40 marches involving tens of thousands of people will take place in cities across the UK – raising fears of a repeat of the vile antisemitic incidents that have marred previous protests.
Commander Karen Findlay, who will oversee policing in London this weekend, said the pro-Palestine rallies come on top of a campaign of ‘action’ by Just Stop Oil as well as sporting fixtures and dozens of other events scheduled for Bonfire Night.
Speaking in an online media briefing, Commander Findlay said: ‘We are going to be using a sharper focus to inform sharper interventions to make arrests in big crowds.
‘We have included faster-time analysis capability of social media and we are going to be employing retrospective facial recognition, so I want to make it clear that we will be doing everything within our power this weekend to make sure there is that fast-time, really robust response to emerging incidents that cause really grave concern to communities.’
She said this involved identifying individuals spreading offensive or harmful content on social media platforms first-time at a much quicker pace, and using the Met’s database of wanted individuals.
It comes as Rishi Sunak hit out at plans to hold pro-Palestine protests in London on Armistice Day as ‘provocative and disrespectful’. He said there was a ‘clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated’.
Marches have been held in London every weekend since the Hamas terror attacks of October 7. Pictured are protesters on Westminster Bridge last Saturday
It comes as Rishi Sunak hit out at plans to hold pro-Palestine protests in London on Armistice Day as ‘provocative and disrespectful’
Protesters clash with police during a demonstration on Whitehall on October 28. Saturday has been the main day for pro-Palestine marches in London and across the UK
Protesters calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza are planning to take to the streets of London on Armistice Day on Saturday November 11.
There are fears marchers could disrupt the two-minute silence commemorating the war dead as well as the daytime and evening Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. The latter is usually attended by members of the Royal Family.
Tom Tugendhat, the security minister and a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, today called the protests ‘inappropriate’ and said he had written to the Mayor of London to ask him to consider the ‘options available’.
It comes amid broader concerns about the antisemitic slogans being used at pro-Palestine protests, with Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely saying ‘jihad ideology’ had left London feeling less safe for Jews than wartime Israel.
Antisemitism campaigners warned today that central London has become a ‘no go area’ for Jews every Saturday – when weekly pro-Palestine demonstrations are typically held.
The Met is currently investigating a female protester who was pictured posing with a banner reading ‘please keep the world clean’ next to an image of a stick man throwing an Israeli flag bearing the Star of David into a bin.
Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said his officers are currently investigating more than 200 examples of online hate prompted by the war in the Middle East. Meanwhile, volunteers who have been putting up posters of Israeli kidnap victims in London revealed half are being ripped down within 48 hours.
The Met has vowed to use ‘all its powers’ to stop protesters disrupting Armistice Day commemorations
Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely said the Jewish community felt fear due to ‘jihad ideology’ witnessed in the capital city
Today, the Met said officers will be deployed across the capital over remembrance weekend as part of a ‘significant policing and security operation’.
It said protest groups have not indicated plans to march on Remembrance Sunday on November 12, but a significant demonstration is expected on the Saturday.
Organisers of the demo have pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph war memorial – the focus of national remembrance events – is located.
Tom Tugendhat told BBC Breakfast this morning: ‘Let’s be clear, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has said that they want to march on Remembrance Sunday, and that is a matter of great concern to me.’
Mr Tugendhat added: ‘It is a moment where we remember those we lost, and I think for the whole country the Cenotaph is sacred ground and the idea that on a day like Remembrance Day you would have a protest going past it, I don’t think that is acceptable.
‘That is why I have written to the Mayor of London, and to Westminster Council, and to the Metropolitan Police asking them to look very carefully at the powers that they have and to consider what options they have available, because personally I don’t think this is an appropriate moment for a protest.’
While the police will be responsible for on-the-day monitoring of the demonstration, the Home Secretary could grant them extra powers to prevent it from interrupting remembrance ceremonies.
The Public Order Act 1986 allows Suella Braverman to ban protests from certain areas if the Met believes there is a disorder risk.
Londoners have taken to social media to describe a ‘tense’ atmosphere in the capital as the conflict in the Middle East reverberates in the UK.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: ‘Every Saturday, central London is becoming a hostile, no-go zone for Jews. It is astounding at how quickly this has become the new ”norm”.
‘We are hearing from Londoners, who have lived in the capital their entire lives, that they are considering leaving their lives here in Britain due to fears for their own safety.
‘Londoners cannot and will not tolerate a situation in which every weekend it becomes common to see an exhibition of extremism on our streets become extremism.
‘The Met is creating the conditions in which not only London’s Jews but all Londoners could be placed in serious danger. Extremists rarely limit themselves to extreme language. We need action by the authorities responsible for keeping Britain safe.’
There was outrage last month after a stage was set up next to the Cenotaph for speakers at a pro-Palestine event on October 14.
Today, the Met vowed to stop any protesters disrupting commemorations over remembrance weekend.
‘This is a weekend with huge national significance,’ the force said.
‘We will use all the powers available to us to ensure anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed.’
It added: ‘We’re absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of anyone attending commemorative events.’
The high-profile Remembrance Sunday outdoor service at the Cenotaph is attended by royals, senior politicians and veterans each year, and is a poignant tribute to those who lost their lives in conflict.
Armistice Day on November 11 is the anniversary of the end of the First World War, and is also known as Remembrance Day.
A man stares at a policeman holding a baton during a confrontation on Whitehall last Saturday
A man is taken away by police during the same protest on Whitehall
Tom Tugendhat, the security minister and a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq , today called the plan to hold a protest on Armistice Day ‘inappropriate’
Today, the Met was investigating a female protester seen posing with a banner reading ‘please keep the world clean’ next to an image of a stick man throwing a Star of David into a bin
Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) is preparing to bus protesters from Leicester to London on the Saturday and said it expected hundreds of thousands of people to take part in the demonstration organised by a coalition of groups.
Ismail Patel, FOA spokesman, said: ‘We definitely will not be at the Cenotaph. We understand the sensitivity of the date.’
Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition is also arranging a coach to take protesters to the November 11 march.
The organisation said: ‘We must continue to show solidarity with the people of Palestine and demonstrate against the genocide being carried out in Gaza.
‘We need a million people on the streets of London on Sat 11th Nov! From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!’
Sir Mark Rowley said he is ‘deeply concerned’ about the effects of protests on day-to-day local policing and admitted he may have to look to other forces to help deal with the ongoing action.
‘We are starting to look at what point we need to look for mutual aid from other forces and change our approach to resourcing this to make it sustainable,’ he told the London Assembly.
He said that since Hamas attacked Jews in Israel on October 7 successive weekend protests in central London have been policed by 1,000 officers, then 1,500 and then by 2,000.
Police made around 70 arrests at the protests and almost 100 more for hate crimes, with anti-Jewish hate crime up 14-fold and anti-Muslim hate crime up threefold on last year, he said.
A council worker removes red graffiti from the Foreign Office today after it was targeted by vandals yesterday
The Foreign Office was daubed with blood-red paint yesterday morning. The graffiti accused Britain of being ‘guilty’
Protesters in London last Saturday holding a banner reading ‘Palestine will be free – victory to the resistance’
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign called for activists to ‘build for the next national march on November 11’
Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, said she hopes those taking part in pro-Palestine marches do not understand what they are supporting, telling the Telegraph: ‘I hope they don’t (understand), because if they do, it’s serious.
‘It’s not possible to support this type of repulsive actions against human beings. People find it hard to understand that an ideology like this exists.
‘But when we think about the jihad calls that we heard (on the marches) in London, when we think about Isis as an organisation that was slaughtering Muslims, committing the same war crimes against Muslims, and I’m not speaking about Islam: I’m speaking about the radical jihadi movement that is secular and against Western civilisation. They kill like it’s a duty for them to kill.’
The Stop the War coalition is calling for a nationwide ‘Day of Action for Palestine’ around the country on November 4, with a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square.
She said: ‘Since those demonstrations started, I keep getting WhatsApp messages from friends in Israel. They ask me, do you feel safe there? Do Jews feel safe?
‘They feel like London is less safe during this war than Israel. They see the same jihadi ideology on the streets of London as in Gaza and they wonder what is going on.’
The anti-Israeli backlash in London has seen posters bearing the photos of kidnap victims torn down from walls across the capital.
Ari, who has been involved in the poster campaign and asked to only give his first name, said most of the flyers are being ripped down within 48 hours.
‘Twenty-four to 48 hours maximum, [though] some are there for longer,’ he told the Jewish Chronicle.
‘People, mostly Muslim and ”free Palestine” [activists], come and tear them off.’
The anti-Israeli backlash in London has seen posters bearing the photos of kidnap victims torn down from walls across the capital. This group were seen in Leicester Square last month
Last year, Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely was branded ‘Zionist scum’ by protesters who tried to block her car as she attended a Cambridge Union debate.
The protesters were heard chanting Hamas slogans and set off flares as they demonstrated.
In 2021, she branded hard-Left activists ‘shameful’ after they tried to intimidate her following a lecture at the London School of Economics.
The diplomat was harassed by an angry mob after delivering a lecture to the LSE’s student union debating society.
On the 28 October, more than 500,000 demonstrators shut down central London to demand for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Crowds gathered near the Golden Jubilee Bridge holding signs saying ‘Gaza, stop the massacre’ and ‘Free Palestine, end Israeli occupation’.
In 2021, Ms Hotovely was harassed by an angry mob outside the London School of Economics
Ms Hotovely has also criticised the BBC’s decision not to refer to Hamas as terrorists
Ms Hotovely previously wrote in the Daily Mail on October 12 to warn about the threat faced by Jews.
She wrote: ‘In the UK, anti-Semitism is on the rise – a 324 per cent rise from this period last year – and as a mother here, it truly pains me to read that pupils of Jewish schools in this country have been told not to wear their blazers on the way to school.’
Speaking about Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, Ms Hotovely said that the terrorist group ‘tied children up and burned them together.’
She said she knew this because of ‘the smoke inhalation in the children’s throats and lungs’.
Ms Hotovely, the first woman to become Israel’s ambassador to London, told the outlet: ‘It’s clear that nothing will be the same again. This is a watershed moment in our life.
‘I truly believe that, no matter how many investigations we will do, the biggest question is how come human beings can commit those types of atrocities.’
She believes that it is crucial to call Hamas terrorists after the BBC dodged the word. Instead the BBC refers to Hamas as a ‘militant’ group and described the slaughter of civilians as a ‘militant’ attack.
She wrote: ‘Militants do not behead babies. Terrorists do. ‘Gunmen’ do not rape innocent girls. Terrorists do.
‘Fighters’ do not burn innocent people alive in front of their families, forcing them to watch. Terrorists do.’
Pictured: Protesters on the Bridge in London on 28 October Pro-Palestine protest
Crowds gathered near the Golden Jubilee Bridge last Saturday holding signs saying ‘Gaza, stop the massacre’ and ‘Free Palestine, end Israeli occupation’
Last month a No10 source said: ‘As the PM has said repeatedly, Hamas are terrorists. It is incumbent on our national broadcaster to recognise this fact.’
BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson wrote an article on the corporation’s website which read: ‘It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn – who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
‘We regularly point out that the British and other governments have condemned Hamas as a terrorist organisation, but that’s their business.
‘Our business is to present our audiences with the facts, and let them make up their own minds.’