UK sees huge jump in antisemitic incidents after Hamas onslaught on Israel

89 incidents logged in four days, a threefold increase, many involving ‘symbols and language of pro-Palestinian politics as rhetorical weapons,’ Community Security Trust reports

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: The heavily Jewish neighborhood of Golders Green, London ((Cnaan Lipshitz)
Illustrative: The heavily Jewish neighborhood of Golders Green, London ((Cnaan Lipshitz)

There has been a sharp spike in antisemitic incidents in Britain, with many couching hate speech in pro-Palestinian rhetoric in the wake of the Hamas terror group’s devastating attack on Israel that killed over 1,300 people, a watchdog reported Wednesday.

The Community Security Trust said it had logged 89 incidents in the four days of October 7-10.

That is more than triple the 21 incidents during the same period last year, it said.

CST said the tally “is almost certain to increase further as we receive more delayed reports of incidents covering this period.”

Hamas launched a shock incursion into Israel on Saturday, during which over 1,500 terrorists breached the border fence along the Gaza Strip and poured into southern Israel while a barrage of 5,000 rockets targeted towns and cities across the country.

Gunmen roamed murderously through the region, seizing communities and slaughtering those they found, gunning people down on roads and overrunning army positions.

The vast majority of those killed were civilian men, women and children, including 40 babies who were slain in one kibbutz. Some of the victims were reportedly mutilated by the Palestinian terrorists and there were allegedly incidents of rape.

As the army mustered forces to confront and eventually counter the offensive, around 150 people of all ages were abducted and taken into the Gaza Strip as captives. Hamas has continued to rain rockets on southern and central regions while Israel responds with airstrikes and artillery barrages.

A protester holds a flare during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London, October 9, 2023 two days after Hamas fighters launched an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel which killed more than 1,300 people. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

The CBS said that in many of the British anti-Jewish hate cases “the perpetrators of these disgraceful incidents are using the symbols and language of pro-Palestinian politics as rhetorical weapons with which to threaten and abuse Jewish people.”

Six of the 89 incidents were physical assaults, three involved damage to Jewish property, 14 were direct threats, with 66 cases of abusive behavior including 22 online.

Among the online incidents, many were “pile-ons,” involving multiple antisemitic posts or comments on the same thread or conversation, CST said.

Some incidents included death threats, the group said.

There were also 65 incidents not logged as antisemitic that included “criminal acts affecting Jewish people and property, suspicious behavior near to Jewish locations, and anti-Israel activity that is not directed at the Jewish community or does not use antisemitic language,” according to the CST.

The majority of recorded incidents, 50, were in the Greater London area. Some appeared to make direct reference to the weekend atrocities perpetrated against Israelis.

Israeli soldiers remove bodies of of Israeli civilians in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 10, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

Among the incidents the CST reported was an Orthodox Jewish man on a London bus approached by a man in his 40s, who hit him in the face and tried to take his hat, a religious symbol.

In another incident, which apparently occurred as the Hamas attack was still unfolding, a stranger said “dirty Jew” to a Jewish person walking to a synagogue in London and told them “no wonder you’re all getting raped.”

On London’s iconic Oxford street the occupant of a passing van shouted “you f**king Jew I will kill you whole” [sic] at a Jewish person.

Outside a northeast London synagogue, a passing car slowed and occupants shouted “Kill Jews” and “Death to Israel” while waving a Palestinian flag.

In the Golders Green neighborhood, a major London Jewish community, “FREE PALESTINE” and “PALESTINE WILL BE FREE” were daubed in large letters on two railway bridges across the main road through the area.

In online incidents, a Jewish student in Birmingham received an Instagram message from a stranger that read: “May a slow and painful death be granted to you and every other Zionist like you.”

Also, a Holocaust survivor who posted on X about Israel received a reply “F**k you jew pig.”

The number of incidents also appeared to be high even when compared to previous increases recorded during past bouts of fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the CST noted. During an 11-day clash in May 2021 there were 70 incidents in the first four days and during a six-week conflict in 2014 there were 29 in the same starting period. Those numbers included late-recorded incidents too, the CST said.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat said he was “very concerned” at the increase in antisemitism, which he was taking “extremely seriously,” and urged action to prevent the spread of hate, the BBC reported.

Speaking to the Sky News outlet, Tugendhat said, “What the Nazis were doing is exactly what Hamas is doing today.”

“It is preaching a blood libel, preaching a hatred for Jews and preaching a hatred that extends around the world,” the minister said.

Jewish schools in London and Manchester have boosted their security amid concerns over the safety of students. In some cases, pupils have been told they can ditch their school uniform jackets in public to prevent them being identified as Jewish, the BBC reported.

Earlier this week, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman instructed police to increase patrols to prevent antisemitic disorder in the wake of the Hamas attack, according to the report.

Officials from the Hamas-controlled health ministry estimate more than 1,000 Palestinian dead inside Gaza from the Israeli strikes. Israel says it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides out, while issuing evacuation warnings to civilians in regions it plans to attack.

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