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

9 October 2023, 18:14 | Updated: 9 October 2023, 20:58

A vigil was held for the victims of the Hamas attack on Israel on Monday evening, while a pro-Palestine protest took place outside the Israeli embassy
A vigil was held for the victims of the Hamas attack on Israel on Monday evening, while a pro-Palestine protest took place outside the Israeli embassy. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Thousands gathered outside Downing Street for a vigil to mourn the hundreds killed by Hamas in Israel over the weekend, as Palestine supporters set off fireworks and flares outside the Israeli embassy in London.

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More than 700 have been killed in Israel by Hamas, which attacked the south of the country from Gaza on Saturday. Many more are missing and over 100 have been taken hostage.

Chief rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis was among the speakers at the Monday night event outside Downing Street, which was attended by around 2,000 people. Attendees held up pictures of people who had died, as well as waving Israeli flags.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with you at this time," Sir Ephraim told mourners, adding that British Jews were "at one" with Israelis.

Read More: Israel and Palestine protestors pulled apart by police at London Underground station yards from Israeli embassy

One attendee told LBC: "Yesterday, a massacre was committed against the Jewish people in Israel, women, children, babies, elderly people, men and boys held captive in Gaza by an evil terrorist organisation.

"We're here to show solidarity with the people of Israel, and let them know that we love them. And we're together with them. And we wish for the safe return of Jews held captive in Gaza.

Read more: More than ten Brits feared dead or missing in Israel as rocket attacks continue

Read more: Siege of Gaza: Israel stops food, fuel and electricity entering disputed territory after Hamas attacks

London Israel vigil

"And our deepest condolences to the families of people whose children and family were murdered."

One man told LBC he was part of an anti-terror reserve unit that had been called out, and he was flying out to Israel on Wednesday.

Alex said he was "extremely motivated to get into uniform and be part of the effort".

He added that he had "no mixed feelings" other than the fact that his wife would be "angry" with him.

"Since the Holocaust, there hasn't been anything this shocking," he said.

Keith Black, the head of the Jewish Leadership Council, said that the attack "affects the Jewish community in this country."

He added: "And there's a huge need for people to come together and show support to Israel and actually to stick together to be together and to feel the pain that everybody is sharing.

The pro-Israel vigil
The pro-Israel vigil. Picture: LBC
The pro-Israel protest
The pro-Israel protest. Picture: LBC
.
. Picture: LBC

"It's definitely horrendous because so many Jews in the community have friends or family know of people who have either fallen in love on the conflict or missing children who have been taken hostage and young men and women who are gearing up to fight as well.

"We know that the increasing loss of life, so the whole community is feeling very traumatic."

Israel has hit back with retaliatory strikes, and begun a siege of Gaza in response to Hamas' attacks. Some 500 people have been killed in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian protests took place in London and in Glasgow on Monday evening.

The London protest was held outside the Israeli Embassy, and was attended by thousands of people waving flags and chanting pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli songs. Some people set off fireworks, and flares in Palestinian colours.

London, UK. 9th Oct, 2023. Palestine protest outside The Israeli embassy in Kensington.
London, UK. 9th Oct, 2023. Palestine protest outside The Israeli embassy in Kensington. Picture: Alamy

It comes after pro-Palestinian graffiti was daubed on a bridge in a traditionally Jewish part of London. A kosher restaurant nearby was vandalised, although police are not treating it as a hate crime for now, and it is unclear if the events are linked.

One protester in Glasgow, called Muhammad, said that attendees were not Hamas sympathisers.

"We're here, standing with the innocent people of Palestine," he said. "They're going to cut water, electricity and food supply. So it's like collectively punishing every Palestinian".

People take part in a Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration near the Israeli Embassy, in Kensington
People take part in a Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration near the Israeli Embassy, in Kensington. Picture: Alamy

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said there was "no place for demonstrations, convoys, or flag-waving on British streets that glorifies terrorism or harasses the Jewish community."

She added: "The barbaric attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists who have massacred civilians and kidnapped the most vulnerable - including the elderly, women, and children - is truly sickening. The UK stands unequivocally with Israel in her fight against this evil.

“There can be zero tolerance for antisemitism. Sadly, we have seen in recent years how events in the Middle East are used as an excuse to stir up hatred against British Jewish communities.

"I am writing to police chiefs in England and Wales to urge them to step up patrols and use all available powers to prevent disorder and distress to our communities. I have been clear officers should act immediately to crackdown on criminality - both in our streets and online.

“I have visited staff at the Community Security Trust who work hard to protect British Jews from antisemitism and joined the Metropolitan Police Service officers on patrol as they provide reassurance to neighbourhoods in north London.

“There can be no equivocation. It is incumbent upon all of us to confront the evil of antisemitism whenever and wherever we encounter it."

Deputy assistant commissioner Andy Valentine said ahead of the events: "We are in liaison with the organisers of these protests and an appropriate policing plan is in place that balances the right to lawful protest against any disruption to Londoners.

"While officers will be there primarily to ensure protests pass off peacefully, we will make arrests if it is suspected that a criminal offence has been committed."

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