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‘It’s glorifying terror’: Paraglider image used by protesters after Hamas massacre condemned

Images of paragliders have been used in online memes and on posters organising pro-Palestinian events since the attacks

Athena Stavrou
Monday 16 October 2023 18:05 BST
Hamas paragliders descend on Israel music festival as people flee massacre

The Jewish community and a former MP have condemned the use of a paraglider image in the wake of Hamas’ deadly attacks in Israel, saying it “glorifies terrorism”.

Metropolitan Police officers investigating a public order offence has launched an appeal to find two women who were seen wearing images of paragliders at a pro-Palestine march in London on Saturday.

The images appear to hark back to last weekend’s attacks, which saw Hamas paragliders being used during an attack on civilians that left around 1,300 people dead.

Police are appealing to find these two women after Saturday’s march in London (MetPolice)

Former Labour MP Luciana Berger said there was “no other explanation” for the use of the images other than a display of support for Hamas. Ms Beger quit the party in 2019, accusing Labour at the time of ‘institutional anti-semitism’.

“There is no other explanation as to why someone would have that image on their back,” she told The Independent. “Why do you wear anything on your back? It’s a show of support. People would have seen on social media the videos of those paragliders coming in one by one into the Nova peace festival, where Hamas then committed the worst atrocities.”

“Here in the UK I would expect the police to identify the people who are glorifying Hamas terrorists,” she said. “We have laws in this country which means the glorification of terrorism in this country is illegal.”

Ms Berger said the display of paraglider images at pro-Palestine events will heighten fears among the British Jewish community, amid reports of a rise in anti-semitism following the Hamas attacks.

“The British Jewish community at this time is extremely vulnerable and anxious,” she said. “People who display these symbols at a march or on social media heighten their vulnerability and anxiety.”

Luciana Berger rejoined Labour in February this year after quitting due to concerns about anti semitism under Jeremy Corbyn (PA Archive)

Jewish charity the Community Security Trust recorded a 400% increase in antisemitic incidents last week and several Jewish schools closed on Friday.

Thousands of people attended the pro-Palestine demonstration in London on Saturday, marching in solidarity with Palestinians trapped in Gaza as the Israeli army bombards the territory. Seven arrests were made, four in breach of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, two for public order offences and one for criminal damage.

Protests took place across Glasgow, Dublin, Manchester and London in support of Palestine (Getty Images)

President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, said the use of paragliders in imagery is a “clear statement of support for Hamas”.

"[Hamas] not only perpetrated unspeakable atrocities against Israeli men, women and children but is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK,” she said. “We expect the authorities to act against anyone showing overt support for Hamas attacks, such as through the use of these paraglider images."

Images of paragliders have been used in online memes and on posters organising pro-Palestinian events since the attacks.

Black Lives Matter Chicago was forced to apologise last week after sharing a picture of a paraglider with the message “Free Palestine”.

The organisation tweeted on October 10: “Yesterday we sent out [messages] that we aren’t proud of. We stand with Palestine & the people who will do what they must to live free. Our hearts are with, the grieving mothers, those rescuing babies from rubble, who are in danger of being wiped out completely.”

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