Rise in antisemitism in London following Hamas attacks on Israel

Image above: Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor 

Metropolitan Police seek guidance from Attorney General on prosecution of hate crimes

The Metropolitan Police has sought guidance from the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service on the charging thresholds for hate crime. There has been a “massive” rise in hate crimes reported to the police in London in the past few weeks, particularly in anti-Semitism.

Between 29 September and 12 October 2023 there have been 105 reports of anti-Semitic incidents and 75 anti-Semitic offences, compared with 14 anti-Semitic incidents and 12 anti-Semitic offences during the same time the previous year.

There has also been a rise in Islamophobia, the police say. During the same time-frame there have been 58 Islamophobic incidents and 54 Islamophobic offences. In the same fortnight the previous year there were 31 Islamophobic incidents and 34 Islamophobic offences.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We have seen behaviours this week that are unacceptable. They are hateful and there is no place for that in London.

“We’ve put ion a significant policing plan across the capital to support communities particularly where they are scared and where they are frightened.”

Image above: Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Vital to avoid an “overspill” in London from Hamas attacks on Israel and Israeli retaliation, says Sadiq Khan

He echoed what Sadiq Khan had to say at City Hall on Thursday at Mayor’s Question Time. The Mayor of London said it was vital to avoid an “overspill” in London from the situation in Israel.

He said: “I want to place on record my condemnation of the sickening terrorist attacks committed by Hamas against Israel over the weekend. There is no justification for the murder of innocent people.

“I am acutely aware that these events have left Jewish Londoners feeling shaken and fearful. In fact, I’m yet to meet a single Jewish Londoner who hasn’t been affected.

“As well as Jewish Londoners, there are also many Palestinian, Muslim and Christian Londoners who are deeply worried about the safety of friends, family and loved ones.”

Mr Khan said he had written to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to ask that the UK Government supports calls from the World Health Organisation and United Nations “to establish humanitarian access to and from Gaza to allow the safe passage of essential supplies and humanitarian access”.

City Hall has been lit at night in the colours of the Israeli flag.

Image above: Demonstrators at the pro- Palestinian march; photograph Sky News

Police say: “Our role as an independent and impartial service is to balance the right to lawful protest with potential disruption to Londoners”

The Metropolitan Police has added extra patrols across London since the attacks by Hamas fighters on Israel, visiting schools, synagogues and mosques. More than 1,000 officers were on duty to police Saturday’s March for Palestine in central London.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets across the UK over the weekend, including in London and Manchester. The Police said 15 people were arrested for offences including assaults on emergency workers and setting off fireworks in public places. Of those 15, three have been charged with criminal offences and one has been issued with a penalty notice for disorder. Three others have been referred to Youth Offending Teams.

According to BBC reports, protesters chanted “Rishi Sunak, shame on you” and the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Last week Home Secretary Suella Braverman urged police chiefs to consider whether the slogan should be interpreted as an “expression of a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world”, possibly making it a “racially aggravated” public order offence in some contexts.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Taylor, who was responsible for policing in London this weekend, said:

“Our role as an independent and impartial service is to balance the right to lawful protest with potential disruption to Londoners. People do not have the right to incite violence or hatred. The law is clear that support for proscribed organisations is illegal.

“Anyone with a flag in support of Hamas or any other proscribed terrorist organisation will be arrested. We will not tolerate the celebration of terrorism or death, or tolerate anyone inciting violence.”

An expression of support for the Palestinian people more broadly, including flying the Palestinian flag, does not, alone, constitute a criminal offence, but there are some situations where the presence of a flag or banner or the use of specific words or phrases are seen as intimidation, intending to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He went on to say they had sought clarification from the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service on the charging thresholds for hate crime.

Image above: Israeli vigil in Parliament Square; photograph Jewish Chronicle

Vigil for Israel

Hundreds of people also attended a vigil for the victims of the Hamas attacks on Israel, to express their “deep sadness”.

Noam Sagi, whose mother Ada Sagi is among the 199 hostages including children and elderly people to have been kidnapped by Hamas, was among those to address the vigil. Some at the vigil were draped in Israeli flags with others holding signs with a message to “bring them home”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday that six British citizens had been killed and ten were missing after Hamas launched the attack on Israel on Saturday 7 October.

According to Reuters news agency at the weekend, 1,300 people were killed in the attack on Israel and more than 3,000 were wounded, while the death toll in Gaza is now at least 2,215, with more than 8,714 wounded and more than 400,000 people displaced.

The war looks likely now to escalate into Lebanon as Israel evacuates its citizens from communities near the Lebanese border.

Mr Khan said: “London is the most diverse city in the world, and I urge Londoners to look out for each other in the coming days and weeks.

“There are forces that will seek to exploit the situation in the Middle East in an attempt to sow the seeds of division here. We cannot and must not let them.”

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