Home secretary Suella Braverman has said she expects the police to “use the full force of the law” against displays of support for Hamas after videos emerged of people appearing to celebrate the attack on Israel.
Metropolitan Police patrols have been increased in London after the force was urged to intervene by immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who shared a video posted on social media by Countdown presenter Rachel Riley after Hamas launched its biggest attack in years on Israel.
Riley posted on social media on Saturday saying she passed two cars in west London driving with Palestinian flags flying from each window, “bouncing up and down in their cars” and “seemingly celebrating like they were having a party”.
She later posted a video which showed people waving Palestinian flags, beeping car horns and clapping in Acton.
The home secretary posted on social media on Sunday morning, saying: “Whenever Israel is attacked, Islamists and other racists use Israeli defensive measures as a pretext to stir up hatred against British Jews.
“Yesterday I spoke with @CST_UK to ensure the Government is doing everything necessary for the protection of our Jewish communities.
“There must be zero tolerance for antisemitism or glorification of terrorism on the streets of Britain.
“I expect the police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas, other proscribed terrorist groups or attempts to intimidate British Jews.”
Riley’s post 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.”
She added on the social media site: “Most people understand this is an abomination. No-one should cheer war and death.”
Prominent barrister Charlotte Proudman also posted a video of a car with Palestinian flags sounding its horn.
She wrote: “Celebrating the murders and kidnapping of Israelis is quite possibly the most heinous act of public hate I have seen on the streets of London.”
Jenrick shared Riley’s post and said: “These disgusting people are glorifying the terrorist activities of Hamas, a proscribed organisation.
“There is no place for this in the UK.
“I trust @metpoliceuk will be taking this seriously.”
In a statement, Scotland Yard 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.
“We are aware that the ongoing conflict may lead to protests over the coming days. We will ensure that an appropriate policing plan is in place in order to balance the right to protest against any disruption to Londoners.”
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.”
He added: “During the last big conflict between Israel and Gaza in May 2021, one of the things that caused the most anger and fear in Jewish communities was car convoys waving flags.
“We hope what happened on Saturday night isn’t an indication that we’re going to see the same thing again as that would be extremely damaging to community relations.
“We kind of accept it as normal that when there’s conflict, we see a rise in antisemitism in Britain, we shouldn’t accept it as normal, it should never be acceptable.”
A group called the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has called for people to attend an “emergency” demonstration on Monday outside the Israeli embassy.
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