‘We always feel unsafe’: London’s Jewish community share fears as area hit by vandalism after Israel attacks

Residents and businesses in Golders Green show solidarity as area targeted in wake of Hamas’ deadly attacks in Israel

Barney Davis
Monday 09 October 2023 17:42 BST
David Lammy condemns Hamas’s attack on Israel during Labour conference

London’s Jewish community has shared their fears after an area in the city was targeted by vandalism in the wake of Hamas’ deadly attacks on Israel.

Residents and businesses in Golders Green woke up to pro-Palestinian graffiti in their neighbourhood, with one restaurant vandalised during a break in overnight.

Police are not treating the latter as a hate crime but nevertheless, local people rallied round on Monday to show their support.

A man covers up Free Palestine message daubed in Golders Green

A police officer outside the vandalised restaurant

The front door of the restaurant Pita in the traditionally Jewish suburb was smashed in with a gas canister during the early hours of Monday morning. But by the lunchtime rush, workers were already measuring up a replacement front door while locals queued up to pick up falafel and shawarma to support the Middle-Eastern eatery.

Have you been affected by the attacks? Email barney.davis@independent.co.uk

Over music turned up loud to cover up the sound of a burglar alarm, Pita’s manager said he had been overwhelmed by support.

“We are back open,” he told The Independent. “To be honest I’m trying to avoid media coverage. I have been here for many years. I have felt that support from the community.

“We don’t know who did this. They smashed the front door in with a gas canister around 3am.”

By Monday evening, Jewish people were flying the Israeli flag out of sports cars as they passed Pita to show their support.

Eli G who owns garages on the road where ‘Palestine Will Be Free!!’ was scrawled

Eli G, 31, who owns garages on the road where ‘Palestine Will Be Free!!’ was scrawled, insisted the Jewish community would not be cowed.

He told The Independent: “It makes us feel unsafe but we always feel unsafe. We are always in a state of unsafety but we just live with it and we believe and that is it.”

“Someone put a swastika on my sign before but I think that was more of a drugs problem.

“It definitely feels like [the Middle East conflict] has hit home.

“But these acts just make us want to carry on. My grandparents came here from Germany. Why can’t we be left alone? What do they even want from us?

“They are trying to create terror but we are not scared.

“They are just trying to break us apart but it will be counter-productive - we feel stronger.”

Ilan Yitzhak outside Pita

He added: “My wife called me this morning to check if I was ok, she never calls me. People are definitely nervous which is not fair.

“She was planning to go to a toy shop with the kids and I almost said ‘don’t go’ but thought that would be giving in.

“So I said ‘Go get what we promised the kids’.”

Local Ilan Yitzhak, 58, travelled to Pita to offer his support after seeing the smashed front window on WhatsApp.

He said: "I feel sad. The community doesn’t feel safe. My wife is scared to send the kids to school. She was saying don’t send the kids to school. I don’t want the kids to walk by themselves.

“We’re worried that the Jewish name of their school on their uniform might make them a target.”

Police on patrol on the area following the Hamas attacks

In another Jewish neighbourhood, Stamford Hill police officers were parked outside a school with locals describing the atmosphere as “quiet”.

A spokesperson for the Met said: “Police were called at approximately 6.10am on Monday, 9 October to reports of a burglary and damage caused to a restaurant in Golders Green Road, NW11.

“It was reported that a cash register had been stolen. Officers have attended the scene and examined CCTV at the location.

“There has been no arrests and enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.

“At this stage, the incident is not being treated as a hate crime.”

It came as Rachel Riley, the Countdown presenter, posted a video on her X account, which showed a number of people appearing to celebrate the Hamas atrocity outside a café in Acton, West London.

She tweeted: “People have been brutally murdered and kidnapped and there are people in London dancing.”

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