We will protect you: Foreign Secretary’s message to Britain’s Jewish people as protests erupt over Israel-Hamas conflict

10 October 2023, 08:58 | Updated: 10 October 2023, 09:12

James Cleverly said: "We stand with you, we will protect you."
James Cleverly said: "We stand with you, we will protect you.". Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Foreign Secretary took steps to reassure Jewish people in Britain today amid mounting tension over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC, James Cleverly said any calls for violence were "completely inappropriate" and that "people in the UK deserve the right to live in peace."

"That is particularly true of the Jewish community in the UK - they are targeted in response to events in the Middle East.

"We stand with you, we will protect you," he added.

Mr Cleverly indicated that a "significant number" of British-Israeli dual nationals have been caught up in the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

James Cleverly to British Jewish communities: 'We stand with you, we will protect you.'

But he declined to confirm reports about the numbers affected, saying: "The situation is fast-moving. It is complicated. I'm uncomfortable giving numbers. Even from the Israeli government, a lot of the figures about the casualties and fatalities are as yet to be fully confirmed.

"So I don't really want to speculate but we do know that a significant number of British-Israeli dual nationals have been in some way involved in the terrorist atrocities.

"The exact numbers, it's difficult to say at this time, and I don't want to give a running commentary, but we will stand ready to support families of those people who are either concerned or have family or loved ones who have been injured in any way."

Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington yesterday
Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington yesterday. Picture: Alamy

His comments come after three people were arrested during protests and vigils over the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The arrests were confirmed by the Metropolitan Police, who said officers will continue an ‘enhanced visible presence’ on the streets of London.

A special focus is going to be placed on Jewish communities in London.

A police spokesperson said: “UK policing has an obligation to uphold the right to protest. However, we are clear that where any activity crosses into criminality, we will, and have, taken action."

Palestine protesters outside The Israeli embassy in Kensington
Palestine protesters outside The Israeli embassy in Kensington. Picture: Alamy

The armed wing of Hamas has said it will begin executing hostages and "posting footage online" if Israel bombs civilian homes in Gaza "without pre-warning".

Al-Qassam brigades, Hamas' armed wing, said hostages have been kept safe so far since their attack on the Middle Eastern country on Saturday.

But Hamas said it will "begin executing an Israeli civilian captive in return for any new Israeli bombing of civilians' houses without pre-warning", and threatening to post the footage online.

Meanwhile, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country will use "enormous force" against Hamas, as he warned retaliation for Saturday's surprise attack on his county was "only just beginning".

US President Joe Biden said it was "likely" that Americans were being kept by Hamas.

"The safety of American citizens—whether at home or abroad—is my top priority as President," he said.

"While we are still working to confirm, we believe it is likely that American citizens may be among those being held by Hamas."

So far, at least 11 American have confirmed to have died. Three Brits are also confirmed dead, though more than 10 are confirmed dead or missing.

Israel has vowed to retaliate with "enormous force" followed Saturday&squot;s attack by Hamas
Israel has vowed to retaliate with "enormous force" followed Saturday's attack by Hamas. Picture: Getty

Speaking on Monday evening, the UK, US, France, Germany, and Italy, put out a statement promising to send support to Israel.

In a joint statement, Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni promised their "steadfast and united support to the State of Israel, and our unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and its appalling acts of terrorism".

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden. Picture: Getty

They said: "We make clear that the terrorist actions of Hamas have no justification, no legitimacy, and must be universally condemned. There is never any justification for terrorism.

"In recent days, the world has watched in horror as Hamas terrorists massacred families in their homes, slaughtered over 200 young people enjoying a music festival, and kidnapped elderly women, children, and entire families, who are now being held as hostages."

They warned that "this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage".

The leaders said they recognised the "legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people", but "Hamas does not represent those aspirations, and it offers nothing for the Palestinian people other than more terror and bloodshed".

Read More: Palestine supporters set off fireworks outside Israeli embassy, as British Jews hold vigil for victims of Hamas attack

Read More: Israel’s Netanyahu says Gaza offensive has ‘only started’

So far, around 900 people have been killed in Israel since Saturday's attack, which includes the 260 concert-goers attending a music festival in the Middle Eastern country.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the death toll has risen towards 700 since Israel began retaliating.

Earlier on Monday, Israel's defence minister ordered the "siege of Gaza", which resulted in food, fuel, electricity and water being cut off on the strip.

More than 10 British citizens are feared dead or missing, including Nathanel Young, 20, a British man who was serving in the Israeli army.

He was killed in the Hamas attack on Saturday, the Israeli Defence Force said.

Bernard Cowan, from Glasgow, was confirmed to have died by his family on Monday.

Aftermath of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
Aftermath of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. Picture: Getty

Twenty-six-year-old Jake Marlowe, who went to the same London school as Mr Young, is also missing.

Meanwhile Danny Darlington, a British photographer who lived in Berlin, and his German girlfriend, Carolin Bohl, have not been heard from since they went to a bunker in Nir Or, a kibbutz in the south of Israel.