Armistice Day, November 11, is commemorated in Britain with a two-minute silence to mark the end of the First World War in 1918. This year, the day fell on a Saturday. However, mass rallies have been taking place every Saturday across Britain, following a reported 100,000 pro-Palestinian supporters marching through central London on October 28, waving anti-Israel banners and chanting anti-Israel and antisemitic slogans.
Leading up to Armistice Day, influential voices in the UK, including the prime minister and Rishi Sunak, urged the head of the Metropolitan Police to prevent the pro-Palestinian march from taking place. However, the police chief stated that they did not have sufficient powers under the law to ban the event. This led to a political storm, and the then-home secretary, Suella Braverman, lost her job after penning an article in The Times criticizing the police for their handling of political rallies.
On Armistice Day, around 300,000 people joined the pro-Palestinian rally in London, marching peacefully but promoting anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian slogans. A counter-protest turned violent, with over 90 arrests made by the police. Reports also revealed that groups organizing the pro-Palestine protests have links to Hamas.
In addition, there have been concerns about Iranian-backed activity in the UK, including threats to kill or kidnap British individuals and disinformation spread online. Despite calls for action, including banning Hamas as a terrorist organization and proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, some government officials have opposed such measures over concerns about diplomatic relations with Iran.
Overall, there are growing concerns about the extent of Iranian activity and its influence on anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies in the UK. It is clear that more decisive action and legal clarity are needed to address these issues effectively.