Four arrested in ‘anti-Semitic abuse’ probe as Gaza tensions spread to London
Social media video appears to show racial slurs being shouted from convoy of cars in north of English capital
Four men have been arrested by Metropolitan Police officers over a video that appears to show anti-Semitic abuse being hurled from a convoy of cars in a Jewish neighbourhood in London yesterday.
In footage posted on social media, at least six cars “emblazoned with Palestinian flags on their bonnets and back windows” are seen driving through the northwestern district of St John’s Wood as slurs and threats are heard being shouted through a megaphone or speaker, Jewish News reports.
“F*** all of them,” screams at least one male voice. “F*** their mothers, f*** their daughters and show your support for Palestine. Rape their daughters and we have to send a message like that. Please do it for the poor children in Gaza.”
Scotland Yard confirmed in a statement that “four men were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences. They were taken into custody at a west London police station, where they remain.”
The video footage, “along with other incidents that have emerged following large pro-Palestine rallies over the weekend”, has been met with cross-party criticism, reports the London Evening Standard.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today, London Mayor Sadiq Khan reassured Jewish communities in the city that action would be taken against people who commit hate crimes.
“Unfortunately, whenever there are tensions in the Middle East and violence, it can spill over into our city,” Khan said.
Urging anyone who experiences racial abuse to contact the police, he continued: “There’s a number of things we’re doing to reassure Londoners, particularly from Jewish communities, and others who are worried about an increase in hate crime.
“There will be an increased police and we’re also in contact with the Community Security Trust (CST), a brilliant organisation that works with Jewish communities, but also we’re in touch with Jewish families and leaders across our city.”
Boris Johnson has also emphasised that “there is no place for anti-Semitism in our society”. In a tweet last night, the prime minister added: Ahead of Shavuot, I stand with Britain’s Jews who should not have to endure the type of shameful racism we have seen today.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer described the incident as “utterly disgusting”.
“Anti-Semitism, misogyny and hate have no place on our streets or in our society. There must be consequences,” he said.
The footage was filmed a day after up to 100,000 people marched through London to the gates of the Israeli embassy in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Demonstrations were also held in other UK cities and towns including Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
The Guardian reports that while the protests were “largely peaceful”, Met Police made nine arrests “for violent disorder and a further four people were held on suspicion of breaching health protection regulations”.
The escalating conflict in the Middle East began after the attempted eviction of six Arab families from the contested Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
At least 197 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, have been killed in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Ten Israeli people, including two children, are confirmed to have died in rocket attacks fired from Gaza.