Ministers say Hamas support in UK ‘repugnant’ and call for full force of law

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she wants officers to use the full force of the law against ‘glorification of terrorism’.

Jordan Reynolds
Sunday 08 October 2023 23:03 BST
Chris Philp said expressions of pride at the attacks by Hamas were ‘repugnant’ (PA)
Chris Philp said expressions of pride at the attacks by Hamas were ‘repugnant’ (PA) (PA Archive)

Ministers have said displays of support for Hamas in the UK are “repugnant” and urged police action against people celebrating the attack on Israel.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she wants officers to use “the full force of the law” against “glorification of terrorism”, while shadow minister Chris Philp denounced a protester’s expression of pride at the incursion as “sick”.

Metropolitan Police patrols have been increased in London after Countdown presenter Rachel Riley shared footage on social media showing two cars flying Palestinian flags in Acton.

Shadow policing minister Mr Philp later condemned remarks made by Dana Abuqamar, president of Manchester Friends of Palestine, in which she said she was “full of pride” and “joy” at the events.

Speaking to Sky News at a pro-Hamas event in Manchester, she said: “We are full of pride. We are really, really full of joy (at) what has happened…. We are proud that Palestinian resistance has come to this point.”

In a post sharing her quotes on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Philp wrote: “This is sick. I’m appalled that anyone holds these repugnant views.”

The Met Police said on Sunday afternoon no arrests had been made, but officers attended “a small number of low-level public order incidents in different parts of London”.

Mrs Braverman said she had spoken with Community Security Trust to ensure the Jewish community in the UK is supported, adding: “There must be zero tolerance for antisemitism or glorification of terrorism on the streets of Britain.

“I expect the police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas, other proscribed terrorist groups or attempts to intimidate British Jews.”

Further protests are expected to take place, with Met officers due to attend a Stop the War demonstration set to be held at the Israeli embassy on Monday evening.

The force said it would be present “primarily to ensure protests pass off peacefully”, but will make arrests if they suspect a criminal offence has been committed.

Riley’s post on X had said: “Acton, half an hour ago. Popped into a cafe for some baklava with the kids and our Ukrainian friends.

“People have been brutally murdered, kidnapped and there are people in London dancing.

“Just had a reassuring call with the police, if anyone is scared, please call them.”

Mr Jenrick shared Riley’s post and said: “These disgusting people are glorifying the terrorist activities of Hamas, a proscribed organisation.

“There is no place for this in the UK.”

Speaking at an event at the Labour Party Conference, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan condemned the Hamas attacks and said it was important they did not “spill over” into increased hate crime in London.

Prominent barrister Charlotte Proudman also posted a video of a car with Palestinian flags sounding its horn.

She wrote: “Celebrating the murders and kidnapping of Israelis is quite possibly the most heinous act of public hate I have seen on the streets of London.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine, in charge of policing London on Sunday, said: “We are aware that this conflict has a far-reaching impact on communities around the world, and we extend our full support to those affected in London.

“We are listening and working with communities and partners to ensure people feel safe and protected. We ask that members of the public report anything concerning, such as threatening behaviour.

“We are aware that a number of demonstrations and protests are planned. We have spoken to the organisers and we expect these will pass off peacefully. However, we will take a zero tolerance approach to any activity which crosses the lines into criminality.”

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats, said it has been in discussion with the Met Police and Government since Saturday morning to ensure the “appropriate levels of security and policing are in place in Jewish community areas”.

Dave Rich, director of policy at CST, said: “Experience tells us that as conflicts in Israel and Gaza escalate, we will see a spike in antisemitic hate crimes in Britain.

“Our advice to the Jewish community is to report any examples of antisemitism or suspicious behaviour around Jewish buildings to the police immediately and then to CST.”

Israel has blockaded Gaza since Islamic militant group Hamas gained control of the territory in 2007 and the two have fought wars ever since.

The country was caught off-guard during a major Jewish holiday on Saturday when Hamas sent fighters across the border and fired thousands of rockets in what it said was a new operation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the attack as “an appalling act of terror” and offered his support to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

A group called the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has called for people to attend an “emergency” demonstration on Monday outside the Israeli embassy.

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