The operator of a London Underground led passengers in a ‘Free Palestine’ chant in advance of the major demonstration there on Saturday, which drew an estimated 100,000 people and sparked significant controversy.
In a video that has since been shared widely on X, formerly Twitter, and on other websites, the driver is heard chanting, “Free, free,” to which the passengers respond “Palestine!”. The driver then goes on to wish everyone “a blessed day today, look after yourselves, and keep all of those people in your prayers.”
London’s transit authority, the TfL, indicated that they were aware of the footage and that they were investigating reports of a driver making political comments on the train, according to the Jewish News.
Commenting on the video, the Mayor of London’s office said that “the Mayor is committed to ensuring all Londoners feel safe as they use public transport and go about their daily lives in our city. Anyone who breaks the law or incites violence or hatred will have action taken against them.”
It is not the first time London’s ‘Tube’ has become a battleground over Israel-related speech. In 2016, posters associated with an ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ ad campaign, part of the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, were plastered throughout the system, without authorization. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who later went on to become Prime Minister, took credit for having the posters taken down.
The video appears to show passengers on their way to the ‘Palestine Solidarity March.’ In advance of the demonstration, police stated that anyone showing support for Hamas, banned as a terrorist organisation in Britain, would face arrest, and any incident of hate crime would not be tolerated. ‘Free Palestine’ is not considered one of these chants, but others, such as ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ have had their legality challenged in recent days.