Anti-Semitic hate soars in London as police vow to stop 'celebrations of terrorism or death'

13 October 2023, 12:57 | Updated: 13 October 2023, 14:36

Police say anti-Semitic incidents have spiked
Police say anti-Semitic incidents have spiked. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Will Taylor

Anti-Semitism in London has spiked dramatically since the start of the Israel-Hamas war as police warned Jewish people in the capital are "genuinely scared".

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Police said they have come across cases of German military music being played outside synagogues and people laughing at the killings as incidents rose 650% from last year.

Rishi Sunak described the incidents as "disgusting".

More officers are being pulled in to patrol a pro-Palestine protest planned for the capital on Saturday, which thousands are expected to join.

The Metropolitan Police said it will arrest anyone who flies the flag of Hamas, which is banned in the UK as a terrorist group, and warned that a person could be arrested if they are inciting hatred while holding a Palestinian flag.

However, the force said waving a flag in its own right is not an offence. More guidance on when waving Palestinian flags could constitute an offence is expected today.

Read more: 'Prove you stand against violence': Antisemitism campaigners slam 'cowardly' decision to not light up Wembley for Israel

Women were seen tearing down photos of missing Israelis
Women were seen tearing down photos of missing Israelis. Picture: Social media

Anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen from 14 incidents and 12 offences in the two weeks from September 30 last year to 105 incidents and 75 offences in the same period this year.

These included Jewish people being confronted by protesters on Monday who laughed about the deaths the country has suffered.

Footage has circulated showing women tearing down photos of missing Israelis in Camden, and police are looking in to it.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: "Jewish Londoners are genuinely scared.

"Tensions are high in the capital and we anticipate this will go on for a fairly long period of time, with unacceptable and hateful behaviour directed at specific communities.

Read more: Israel orders evacuation of 1.1m people from northern Gaza within 24 hours as Sunak urges Netanyahu to protect civilians

"We will not tolerate any glorification or support of terrorist organisations. Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organisation.

We will not tolerate celebration of terrorism or death, full stop, and you will be arrested."

Hamas unleashed its attack, which has led to the deaths of 1,300 Israelis, early on October 7.

The Met said Islamophobic incidents have increased but nowhere near the increased rate of anti-Jewish hate.

All 300 synagogues in London have been visited by police for reassurance, and some 300 officers have been deployed to support schools as three Jewish schools shut for security reasons.

Police said there is no specific threat to schools.

Speaking in Sweden, Sunak said: "Yesterday I chaired a meeting of police chiefs in Downing Street, together with the Community Security Trust, to specifically make sure that everybody in our Jewish communities can feel safe. There's been a, quite frankly, disgusting rise in antisemitic incidents over the past few days.

"That's not right. We have provided extra funding to the Community Security Trust to make sure that Jewish institutions - whether that's synagogue or schools - have all the protection they need and the police have all the support that they need to ensure that our streets are safe for people from all communities.

"Because we will absolutely not tolerate people inciting hatred, or violence, or racist activity, intimidating or threatening behaviour will not be tolerated. It will be met with the full force of the law."

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