Once again, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah’s gun-emblazoned yellow flags were waved throughout the streets during the march, alongside chants of ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ . The chant is widely seen as a call for the elimination of Israel.
Al-Quds Day, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, is an anti-Israel day of protest, first initiated by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.
The rally was advertised in posters under the heading ‘Liberating Quds [Jerusalem] as the capital of Palestine’ and speakers included Reverend Stephen Sizer, an Anglican vicar who once posted a link to an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Israel was responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks, as well as citing Holocaust deniers.
One speaker, Shaykh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, said that Israel should be “wiped from the map” and claimed Zionists’ “days are numbered”.
The rally was met by a counter-demonstration down the road, and a heavy police presence separated the two sides.
Prominent lawyer, Mark Lewis, strategically parked his wheelchair blocking the route of the Al-Quds march. Mr Lewis, who has multiple sclerosis, refused to move out the way of protesters and successfully delayed the anti-Israel march for an hour.
As the Al-Quds march proceeded towards Downing Street, pro-Israel activists chanted counter protests and played the Israeli national anthem as well as winning Israeli Eurovision song on speakers.
Many of the flags featured small ‘disclaimers’ that they were only supporting Hezbollah’s ‘political wing’, though Hezbollah has long insisted that its military and non-military activities are indivisible. Only the ‘military wing’ of Hezbollah is proscribed as a terror organisation in the UK.
Following last year’s march, Conservative parliamentarians have voiced concern at the public display of Hezbollah flags, and called on the Government to proscribe the terror organisation in its entirety.