Antisemitic incidents quadrupled in London after Gaza conflict broke out

29 July 2021, 00:03 | Updated: 29 July 2021, 00:37

A peak in antisemitic incidents in London coincided with the escalation of conflict between Israel and Palestine in Gaza
A peak in antisemitic incidents in London coincided with the escalation of conflict between Israel and Palestine in Gaza. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Violence against Jewish people in London reached a "worrying" spike in the spring following escalating tension in the Middle East, new figures have shown.

A Freedom of Information request to the Metropolitan Police by the PA news agency revealed 87 incidents were recorded in May, around four times higher than any other month in the past three years.

"Usually when it flares up in Israel, it flares up here locally," said Chaim Hochhauser from Shomrim, a neighbourhood watch group which works to protect the Jewish community of Stamford Hill in north London.

"In May we had the Gaza war in Israel, so that is why it has flared up in England," he said.

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"During May, the Jewish community in Hackney were the target of many racially motivated attacks.

"One of these hate crimes saw targeted over 30 Jewish-owned vehicles whose tyres were slashed, this was pure hate crime as only the Jewish cars were targeted."

The peak came as conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza escalated, hitting international headlines and leading to hundreds of deaths.

The figures showed 39 of the incidents in London involved male victims, while 43 targeted women.

In one of the incidents, police recorded rocks being thrown at a Jewish home in the capital.

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Dozens of other non-violent incidents were recorded across the capital throughout the month, including one where the word "Hitler" was written on the ceiling of a communal block of flats.

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, also from Stamford Hill, which is believed to have the highest concentration of Hasidic Jews in Europe, said: "There needs to be better security provided by the police, particularly for women in the neighbourhood."

He said he believed a belief that Jewish women were "docile" had made them an "easy target" for those wishing to express hatred against Jews.

The Metropolitan Police labelled the incidents "deplorable abuse".

In a statement, the force said: "Hate crime comes in many different forms and strikes at the heart of communities.

"We know there is public concern about increases in various forms of hate crime in response to events across the globe, especially over the last 18 months.

"Most recently we have seen incidents of anti-Semitism within the capital which have understandably caused considerable concern within our Jewish communities.

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"Behaviour of this kind and abuse against any individual or group has no place in our city.

"We will not tolerate it and will act quickly and robustly in response to all reported crimes of this nature.

"Throughout 2020 and into 2021, Covid-19 also had a direct impact on hate crime in our communities.

"There was a rise in racially aggravated incidents, both on and offline, with certain communities targeted as a result of the pandemic."