Three friends 'attacked by 20 men' in Leicester Square 'for being Jewish' and 'called police 10 times'

22 January 2024, 08:10 | Updated: 22 January 2024, 08:43

Three people said they were attacked 'for being Jewish' in Leicester Square
Three people said they were attacked 'for being Jewish' in Leicester Square. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Three people claim to have been attacked in Leicester Square in the early hours of Sunday morning 'for being Jewish'.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The three victims said they were physically assaulted by a large group of men on a night out in central London after speaking Hebrew.

One of the victims, a 28-year-old woman called Tehilla, told the Telegraph that she had called the police ten times but that officers did not come out.

Officers said they came to the scene about half an hour after they were called out. They also came to Tehilla's house on Sunday evening, about 16 hours after the first report.

The three victims, who also included two men aged 25, were walking towards a nightclub when they were assaulted. They left "to stay out of trouble".

The attack took place in Leicester Square
The attack took place in Leicester Square. Picture: Alamy

They were then attacked about 20 minutes later by a group of men whom they said were speaking in Arabic.

The assailants asked the three victims if they were Jewish.

"I said ‘yes, I’m Jewish,’ and then they started chanting ‘Free Palestine’, and f--- Jews, all this kind of swearing at us," Tehilla told the paper.

"So we just tried not to get into trouble, to walk away, but they started following us and then all of a sudden, it started with like two or three guys, and all of a sudden, they called all their friends and 15 to 20 guys started attacking us physically.

Tehilla said she had tried to stop them but "they started attacking me as well".

She added: "I hurt my leg, they punched me in the neck.

Anti-Semitism campaigner: 'It was a march marked by dignity and respect...'

"I tried to run away and I called the police so many times, at least 10 times and I kept crying to them, ‘I’m a girl, there’s a group of guys attacking me and my friends because I’m Jewish, please can you come, I’m scared I’m going to die’.

"They don’t really care. They kept saying ‘I’m sorry, it takes some time, you are not the only one that called tonight’," said.

She said she "never thought this would happen in London".

Another friend of Tehilla said she thought the incident showed "there’s a two-tier police situation".

They added: "The police are not tackling the weekly hate marches, they are not tackling antisemitism."

Head of Campaign Against anti-Semitism poses fiery question to Police Federation chief

The friend said: "The feeling for the Jewish community is that the leadership of the police, the government do not care about us,” they added. “The climate is very very distressing for the British Jewish community.’"

Anti-Semitic attacks have risen sharply since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, and the subsequent war in Gaza.

Police have made dozens of arrests at the pro-Palestine marches in London, which have been running most weekends since October.

The Community Security Trust, which supports and protects Jewish people in London, called the attack "appalling", adding: "We will be raising it with the police and will provide ongoing support to the victims."

Detective Superintendent Lucy O’Connor said: "We are investigating this incident as an anti-Semitic hate crime.

"I know how upsetting such inexcusable violence is for anyone who was injured or who witnessed the incident, and also for the wider community. I share their concerns.

"Officers arrived at the scene some 28 minutes after they were called. Of course, I wish we could have come to their aid sooner.

"The police investigation will now focus on speaking with the woman and any other victims or witnesses, as well as following up all lines of enquiry including analysis of CCTV. I urge any witnesses to get in touch.

"I can assure Londoners, tackling anti-Semitic crime is a priority for the Met. There is no place for hate in our city."

A spokesperson for the Met added that officers were called at around 1.37am on Sunday in Leicester Square, and the person who reported the incident said that they didn't need an ambulance.

"Officers attended the location, arriving shortly after 2am, at which point all parties had left the scene. We understand that a woman subsequently attended hospital for treatment," they added.

"The incident is being treated as a hate crime. Officers will speak with the victim to take a statement and identify any other victims and witnesses."