Youngsters who left school to take part in a pro-Palestine protest led a controversial chant which has been slammed as inciting genocide.

Dozens of schoolchildren paraded through central Brighton towards Jubilee Square chanting the controversial phrase "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free" as part of a pro-Palestine demonstration this morning.

The children dropped their pens and left the classrooms for the protest at 10am to call for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict.

The Argus: Youngsters at the protest led chants of 'From the river to the Sea, Palestine will be free'Youngsters at the protest led chants of 'From the river to the Sea, Palestine will be free' (Image: Heidi Bachram)

The slogan "From the River to the Sea" refers to the area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, which covers Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer MP has described the chant as "extremely offensive". She told LBC the chant "is calling for the eradication of the state of Israel and by analogy, therefore, the eradication of the Jews within Israel".

But other campaigners say it is simply calling for "equality" for residents of the Palestinian state.

The Argus: A poster for the protestA poster for the protest (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal told Times Radio: “It is not a call, as grotesquely suggested, for a genocidal action against the Jewish citizens of Israel.

"It is a call for a system of apartheid to be dismantled, so that then the people who inhabit that territory, can actually build a system in which they live together with equal rights."

British-Israeli Adam Ma’anit, from Brighton said his teenage daughter is terrified after the protest.

He added: "Hamas terrorists chant the same genocidal slogans that are now being shouted on Brighton streets.

"Seeing those kids calling for the wiping out of Israel is chilling. My family are still reeling from the murder of our beloved teenage relative and my 14 year old daughter is terrified.

"The schools have to take action.”

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is designated as a terrorist group by the UK, the United States, and the European Union. The group was behind the October 7 attack in which hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed with others kidnapped and taken back to Gaza.

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Video captured from the protest shows youngsters, mostly from Brighton secondary schools, aged between 11 and 16 taking part in the chants.

Labour MP Andy McDonald was suspended from the party after saying the slogan at a protest in London - which a party spokesman dubbed "deeply offensive."

Read more: Pro-Palestine protesters stage vigil in Brighton city centre

Organisers encouraged activists to write a letter to their school's headteacher to take a stance on the conflict.

A 518-word template was shared online.

One line reads: "Our school has admirably encouraged students to participate in and express support for the oppressed people of Ukraine, who have been enduring a challenging situation due to the conflict with Russia.

"This support and awareness-raising activities have been commendable and in line with our values of empathy and social responsibility.

"However, I have noticed a discrepancy in the way the school is approaching the situation in Palestine, where the people have been oppressed for a century now."

The Argus: A previous Palestine protest in LondonA previous Palestine protest in London

The letter suggested that schools are "discouraging" children from "showing support for the oppressed people of Palestine".

The protest was organised by the Stop The War coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign - who are behind the marches in London each weekend - including the one in the capital tomorrow.

Sussex Police were on scene and have been approached for comment.