Suella Braverman urges police chiefs to use ‘full force of the law’ against shows of support for Hamas and warns waving Palestinian flag on British streets ‘may not be legitimate’
- READ MORE: Met Police increases patrols amid fears of antisemitic attacks
Suella Braverman has urged officers to use the ‘full force of the law’ against shows of support for Hamas or bids to intimidate the UK’s Jewish community in the wake of the terror group’s attack on Israel.
Waving a Palestinian flag on British streets ‘may not be legitimate’ if it is deemed to be a show of support for acts of terrorism, the Home Secretary told police chiefs.
Police should also consider whether chants such as ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, which is popular with the Palestine solidarity movement, ‘should be understood as an expression of a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world’ and amount to a racially aggravated public order offence.
Her comments come after tensions peaked in London last night with thousands of pro-Palestine protesters filling the streets near the Israeli Embassy, holding flags, chanting and lighting flares.
There were three arrests, with a man, 70, arrested for racially-motivated criminal damage, a 15-year-old male on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and a third man, 29, for possessing an offensive weapon, the Metropolitan Police said.
Suella Braverman has urged officers to use the ‘full force of the law’ against shows of support for Hamas
Police had to separate protesters bearing Palestine and Israeli flags last night in High Street Kensington tube station
Anti-social behaviour related to the conflict has been reported across the UK since Saturday, when Islamist militants crossed the Gaza border and mounted a violent attack on civilians, which has so far seen over 1,000 Israelis killed.
Video last night showed police having to separate protesters bearing Palestine and Israeli flags last night in High Street Kensington tube station.
Reports also emerged of fireworks being shot towards Israel’s Embassy and a Palestinian flag being draped over a post opposite it.
Scotland Yard said it would increase the presence of officers in response to a ‘number of incidents’ of people celebrating the attack on Israel, which was followed by retaliatory strikes on Gaza.
Talks have also been held between the Home Office and the Community Security Trust (CST), which provides safety, security, and advice to the Jewish community.
The charity has increased footfall to reassure local communities across Britain, it confirmed to MailOnline.
The Home Secretary visited Golders Green yesterday, where she sought to reassure the community alongside the Met’s Deputy Commissioner after a suspected burglary at a Kosher restaurant and pro-Palestine graffiti appearing on a railway bridge.
In a letter addressed to chief constables in England and Wales today, Mrs Braverman said: ‘Sadly, experience indicates that whenever Israel is attacked, Islamists and other racists seek to use legitimate Israeli defensive measures as a pretext to stir up hatred against British Jews and increase fear within the Jewish community’.
The Met Police has confirmed that officers will step up patrols in London amid fears of anti-Semitic attacks and protests
Home Secretary, Suella Braverman (second right) and and Dame Lynne Owens, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (right) meet with members of the Jewish community in London
The Cabinet minister set out examples of protest that she said could amount to public order offences, including targeting Jewish neighbourhoods, waving pro-Palestinian or pro-Hamas symbols and chanting slogans that could be interpreted as anti-Israeli.
She said: ‘I encourage all chief officers to ensure that any protests which could exacerbate community tensions by way of offensive placards, chants, or behaviours that could be construed as incitement or harassment, have a strong police presence to ensure perpetrators are appropriately dealt with, and that communities feel protected.
‘I would encourage police to give similar consideration to the presence of symbols such as swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations. Context is crucial.
There was a heavy police presence on Kensington High Street last night as Palestine supporters marched near the Israeli Embassy
‘Behaviours that are legitimate in some circumstances, for example the waving of a Palestinian flag, may not be legitimate such as when intended to glorify acts of terrorism.
‘Nor is it acceptable to drive through Jewish neighbourhoods, or single out Jewish members of the public, to aggressively chant or wave pro-Palestinian symbols at.
‘Where harassment is identified, I would encourage the police to take swift and appropriate enforcement action.’
It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to ‘hold people to account’ if they are found to be supporting Hamas in Britain, and was unequivocal in calling the group ‘terrorists’.
Addressing a Synagogue in north London last night, he added: ‘The people who support Hamas are fully responsible for this appalling attack.
‘They are not militants. They are not freedom fighters. They are terrorists.’ Hamas is proscribed as a terror organisation in the UK.
Mr Sunak told broadcasters on Tuesday that police have been given ‘clear guidance’ to ‘clamp down on any behaviour that falls foul of the law’.
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