Flares lit as protestors shout ‘free Palestine’ at Israeli embassy in London

Thousands of pro-Palestine demonstrators descended on the Israeli embassy in Kensington, London, this evening (Monday, October 9) where chants of "free Palestine" could be heard.

Images shared on social media showed police officers separating groups of protestors inside Kensington High Street station. It has been reported that some pro-Israeli demonstrators were also present.

It comes following an unprecedented weekend when Palestinian militant group Hamas – which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, the EU and the UK – stormed communities and fired rockets over the border into Israel. Officials said the Israeli death toll from Hamas' surprise attack now stands at more than 900. Others have been taken hostage.

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Israel has now formally declared war on Hamas in response and is targeting Gaza with airstrikes. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, Israel's airstrikes have killed more than 590 people and counting.

Kensington High Street was a sea of Palestinian flags this evening as protestors climbed lamp posts and set off flares. The Israeli embassy was boarded up. The PA news agency reported chants of "Israel is a terrorist state", "free Palestine" and "Allahu Akbar" could be heard.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign said in a statement: "The offensive launched from Gaza can only be understood in the context of Israel’s ongoing, decades long, military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and imposition of a system of oppression that meets the legal definition of apartheid.

"This is the context in which we need to understand the cycle of violence. If violence is to end, both that of the oppressor and the oppressed, then we must all take action to end the root cause – Israeli apartheid and oppression of Palestinians."

The Metropolitan Police said it was "aware of instances of suspected criminal damage in Kensington High Street". The force confirmed there were officers at the scene.

Meanwhile, around 2,000 people attended a Jewish community vigil in Westminster for Israel, arranged by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. Some in attendance held up photos of Noa Argamani, an Israeli woman who was kidnapped by Hamas. Other banners stated: "I stand with Israel."

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis told the vigil "no civilised person cannot be moved, cannot be deeply shocked by the scenes of brutal terrorist outrage in Israel".

He added: "If Hamas would want peace with Israel, just lay down your arms. Just declare your interest to live alongside us in peace and in amity. All they want is war, because for Hamas the ultimate solution is not a two-state solution as far as the Jews in Israel are concerned, it’s a no-state solution because they want to drive us from our land and this is what they have proven over the past few days."

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