UK to shut down Gaza protests over antisemitism allegations

Londoners have been marching almost every week in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to hold the UK Government to account [GETTY]

The Metropolitan Police will be given new powers to shut down pro-Palestine protests after receiving criticism from a pro-Israel charity over how they have been handling marches in London, specifically their lack of tackling alleged antisemitism within these marches.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said on X that they have held a series of meetings with the Home Office and officials at Downing Street over the past few weeks to discuss the alleged issue of how the police handle the protests.

The CAA is a charity “dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance law enforcement” and has been branding pro-Palestine marches as antisemitic.

The Telegraph revealed that the Home Office is preparing to amend sections of the Public Order Act, allowing marches to be banned and public assemblies to be restricted.

These changes come after the head of the Met Police, Sir Mark Rowley, has been facing calls to quit after defending the police officer who called Gideon Falter, the chief executive of the CAA, “openly Jewish” at a pro-Palestinian rally in London.

Falter accused the police of doing “practically nothing” to restrict the protests.

The CAA said they turned to the government to call for clarifications on the Public Order Act to give the police “both the power and the duty to act” on the protests and to end the weekly marches.

The organisation has also called on the Home Secretary to tackle the “dangerous glorification of terrorism” in these marches by proscribing organisations, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Yemen’s Houthis and “various Palestinian terrorist groups” involved in the 7 October attacks.

The publication understands that the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, and the police minister, Chris Philp, want to change the Act to “empower officers to refuse permission for such marches to go ahead”.

While there have been concerns about the rising costs of policing large-scale protests, these changes will focus particularly on how the marches have allegedly affected the Jewish community, who feel “unsafe” going into central London when the marches take place.

The marches, which have been taking place almost every week since 7 October, have been accused of being “antisemitic” and have been criticised for “displays of antisemitism”.

However, protest organisers and supporters reject any notion that the events are antisemitic, with the emphasis of the protests being on Palestinian solidarity and support for peace as Israel wages war on Gaza. 

There are fears that such action from the UK government is part of  a wider campaign to restrict the freedom to protest, including a crackdown on pro-Palestine voices across the UK. 

The Home Office’s independent adviser on extremism branded London as “a no-go zone for Jews” because of the protests, despite Jewish people participating in many pro-Palestinian protests. 

The changes will come as an official review by Lord Walney, the government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, is set to be published this week and will contain a series of recommendations for ministers on how to “clamp down” on these protests.

A spokesperson from the Home Office said, “We thank the Campaign Against Antisemitism for their proposals and we will be looking closely at them.”

The spokesperson mentioned “clear concerns” about the protests’ impact allegedly affecting some communities.

“We have been clear with the police that they must use all the powers available to them to police protests appropriately and will always have our backing in doing so.”

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