Kosher restaurant in Golders Green was burgled, with incident not linked to anti-semitism, owners say

10 October 2023, 16:31

A Jewish restaurant in Golders Green was vandalised and Palestinians celebrated on the streets of London
A Jewish restaurant in Golders Green was vandalised and Palestinians celebrated on the streets of London. Picture: Social Media

By Kit Heren

The owners of a Kosher restaurant in north London that was smashed up after the Hamas attack on Israel said the incident was a burglary, not an anti-semitic hate crime.

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Pictures from Golders Green on Monday morning show the front doors of Pita in Golders Green had been vandalised with reports the till had been stolen.

‘Free Palestine’ graffiti had been daubed on a nearby railway bridge, but police said there was no evidence the attack on the shop was a hate crime.

The owners confirmed this on Tuesday, saying: "On Monday morning we were called by the police to our restaurant before opening times following reports made by worried civilians after witnessing graffiti on Golders green road and as well a gas canister used for smashing our front glass door.

They added that by the time they arrived at the restaurant, "the media was fully present and social media full of reports before we or the police had the chance to properly understand" what had happened.

They added: "After comprehensive investigation and examination of the CCTV footage, it has been fully clarified that the incident specifically at our restaurant had no links to the graffiti placed and is not a hate crime but rather a burglary and the suspect has been identified as one with records of similar crimes in a business regardless of the ownership identity.

"We all appreciate and grateful for your kind care, words, and worries. 

"But we believe that spreading unnecessary fear is something we would like to avoid and prevent. With wishes for everyone for better days to come."

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Many linked the burglary with anti-semitism in the aftermath of the incident.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan posted online: "There is no tolerance for hate in our city. I remain in close contact with the Met Police. Whoever did this will face the full force of the law.

"I stand with Jewish Londoners, today and always."

The Campaign against Antisemitism posted online: “We are receiving images of a kosher restaurant that was vandalised overnight in Golders Green.

“Local residents report that “Free Palestine” was graffitied on a nearby bridge.

“Violence against Israel is often used as a pretext for antisemitism in the UK. Jews must be able to live without fear.

“The law must be enforced. If you have information call the police. Those responsible must be prosecuted.”

A spokesman for the police said: “Police were called at approximately 06:10hrs on Monday, 9 October to reports of a burglary and damage caused to a restaurant in Golders Green Road, NW11.

"It was reported that a cash register had been stolen.

"Officers have attended the scene and examined CCTV at the location. There has been no arrest and enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.

"At this stage, the incident is not being treated as a hate crime."

The Met Police said it had been made aware of a number of incidents in the capital in connection with the conflict, with protests also planned in the coming days.

Scotland Yard said on Sunday it will take a “zero tolerance” approach to any activity that “crosses the lines into criminality”.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: “We are aware of a number of incidents, including those that have been shared on social media, in relation to the ongoing conflict in Israel and the border with Gaza.

“The Met has increased policing patrols across parts of London in order to provide a visible presence and reassurance to our communities.

“We remain in contact with partners and community leaders to listen to any concerns.

“Anyone who experiences threatening behaviour or is worried about their safety is urged to contact police.”

Countdown presenter Rachel Riley warned it was a “dangerous and terrifying time” for Jewish people after witnessing people flying Palestinian flags in west London.

Riley's post on X had said: "Acton, half an hour ago. Popped into a cafe for some baklava with the kids and our Ukrainian friends.

"People have been brutally murdered, kidnapped and there are people in London dancing.

"Just had a reassuring call with the police, if anyone is scared, please call them."

On Saturday night, a group of around 50 people waving Palestinian flags could be seen cheering and setting off fireworks on the Edgware Road in London.

On Sunday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said she expects the police to “use the full force of the law” in response.

She posted on social media: “Whenever Israel is attacked, Islamists and other racists use Israeli defensive measures as a pretext to stir up hatred against British Jews.

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats, said it has been in discussion with the Met Police and Government since Saturday morning to ensure the "appropriate levels of security and policing are in place in Jewish community areas".

Dave Rich, director of policy at CST, said: "Experience tells us that as conflicts in Israel and Gaza escalate, we will see a spike in antisemitic hate crimes in Britain.

"Our advice to the Jewish community is to report any examples of antisemitism or suspicious behaviour around Jewish buildings to the police immediately and then to CST."

Israel has blockaded Gaza since Islamic militant group Hamas gained control of the territory in 2007 and the two have fought wars ever since.

The country was caught off-guard during a major Jewish holiday on Saturday when Hamas sent fighters across the border and fired thousands of rockets in what it said was a new operation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the attack as "an appalling act of terror" and offered his support to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

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