Three arrests at London protests as police vow to put 'special focus' on Jewish communities

Tuesday, 10 October 2023

    Three people have been arrested during protests and vigils over the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

    The arrests were confirmed by the Metropolitan Police, who said officers will continue to have an “enhanced visible presence” on the streets of London to reassure the public.

    A special focus will be placed on Jewish communities across the city.

    Supporters of both Palestine and Israel took to the streets of London on Monday to attend vigils and protests after the conflict heightened on Saturday when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel.

    A police spokesperson said: “UK policing has an obligation to uphold the right to protest. However, we are clear that where any activity crosses into criminality, we will, and have, taken action.”

    British Transport Police arrested a 15-year-old male in Kensington High Street on suspicion of assault on an emergency worker, racially motivated criminal damage and possessing an offensive weapon.

    A 70-year-old man was also arrested in Kensington on suspicion of racially motivated criminal damage and a 29-year-old man was arrested in Oxford Street on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon.

    A police statement said further active arrest enquiries are underway, including into criminal damage to a building in Kensington High Street.

    The statement said the force is “balancing the right to lawful protest against any disruption to Londoners, while ensuring all communities are supported and reassured”.

    It said they were aware of concerns about the use of flags and symbols on London’s streets “that could lead to people feeling threatened” although no offences have been identified.

    “The waving of a particular flag is not, in itself, a specific criminal offence unless it relates to a proscribed organisation,” the spokesperson said.

    “We have zero tolerance for any hate crimes.”

    The Israeli embassy in west London was boarded up as hundreds took part in a pro-Palestine demonstration on Monday.

    Groups including Stop the War and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign gathered at the embassy in Kensington, waving placards calling for Israel to “end the occupation”.

    Fireworks were let off, flares were lit and chants of “Israel is a terrorist state”, “Free Palestine” and “Allahu akbar” rang out.

    Around 2,000 people attended a Jewish community vigil in Westminster for Israel, arranged by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

    It comes after Palestinian militant group Hamas sent fighters across the border to Israel and fired thousands of rockets in an unprecedented attack on Saturday.

    More than 900 people have been killed in Israel according to the Israeli military with authorities in Gaza saying more than 680 have been killed in the territory, with dozens more taken hostage by Hamas.