"We want to send a clear message from the march that we represent the majority of the population in our calls for a cease-fire and that the movement in support of the Palestinians is growing in strength."
Organizers are expecting hundreds of thousands of people from across the United Kingdom to join an "inspiring, peaceful, and united show of solidarity" with Palestinians enduring the Israeli war on Gaza by marching from London's Hyde Park to the U.S. Embassy on Saturday.
"More than 500,000 people are expected to converge in London, making it one of the largest political marches in British history," the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), one of the organizers, said in a Friday statement reported by The Guardian.
Stop the War Coalition (STWC) convenor Lindsey German said Thursday that "our local groups in towns and cities across the U.K., along with coach companies, are telling us that every one of their coaches have been booked to bring people to London. This is comparable only to the 2 million strong protest against the Iraq War in 2003."
The other organizations behind the National March for Palestine on November 11—which is Armistice Day—are the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain, and Palestinian Forum in Britain.
"We want to send a clear message from the march that we represent the majority of the population in our calls for a cease-fire and that the movement in support of the Palestinians is growing in strength," says STWC's event webpage.
The Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) air and ground assault of Gaza—launched last month in response to a Hamas-led attack—has killed over 11,000 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israeli troops on Friday attacked multiple hospitals in the besieged enclave, including the largest, where tens of thousands of civilians have sought shelter.
Throughout the bloodshed and Israel's destruction of civilian infrastructure including homes, schools, and places of worship, people around the world have taken to the streets to call for a cease-fire, with some also demanding International Criminal Court action on "escalating Israeli war crimes and genocide of the Palestinian people" in Gaza.
"Our call for a cease-fire is rooted in a sincere wish to see an end to all violence, especially that which targets civilians, while recognizing that this cannot be achieved unless the root causes of that violence, the 75 years of ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people, are adequately addressed," the STWC webpage explains.
Nakba, or "catastrophe," is a term Palestinians use to describe the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 people from Palestine during the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1947-48. During this latest monthlong war, at least two plans from Israeli officials to permanently expel Palestinians from Gaza have been circulated.
Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a Monday interview with an American reporter that after the current assault ends, Israel plans to control Gaza for an "indefinite period," adding that his nation will "have the overall security responsibility because we've seen what happens when we don't have it."
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has refused to support a cease-fire in Gaza, leaving some British Muslims feeling "disappointed and disheartened." The Conservative leader has also fired a government aide who called for cease-fire and condemned related demonstrations, saying this week that "my view is that these marches are disrespectful."
Faced with pressure to stop Saturday's march, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said Wednesday that "the laws created by Parliament are clear. There is no absolute power to ban protest." Noting Armistice Day events, he added that marchers had shown a "complete willingness to stay away from the Cenotaph and Whitehall and have no intention of disrupting the nation's remembrance events."
Sunak, who met with Rowley this week, said of the commissioner: "He has said that he can ensure that we safeguard remembrance for the country this weekend as well as keep the public safe. Now, my job is to hold him accountable for that."
Meanwhile, STWC welcomed the Met leader's acknowledgement that police lack the power to ban the upcoming demonstration, and declared that "any other decision would have represented a capitulation to political pressure by the government and would not have been accepted by the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people."
"Saturday's march too will be peaceful and will restore the focus to where it should be—the suffering in Gaza and the urgent need for the British government to support a cease-fire," the coalition added. "We urge the largest possible turnout for Gaza on Saturday."