Hate crime continues to soar in London amid Israel-Hamas war

Police officers and protesters clashed in Trafalgar Square during a March for Palestine (PA) (PA Wire)
Police officers and protesters clashed in Trafalgar Square during a March for Palestine (PA) (PA Wire)

Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes have almost doubled in little over a week in London, police data showed on Friday.

Tensions in the capital are rising after the October 7 attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel and subsequent bombardment by Israel of Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations and vigils held by Jewish groups in solidarity with hostages taken by militants, some of whom are British, have played out on London streets in recent weeks.

Seventy-five arrests have been made "linked to the conflict", the Metropolitan Police said.

Commander Kyle Gordon said there had been 408 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the capital so far this month, compared to 28 in the same period last year.

There had been 174 Islamophobic offences compared to 65 in the same timeframe in 2022.

In both cases the numbers were almost twice as high as those given a week ago.

"My colleagues continue to ruthlessly deal with any acts of hate crime that they encounter," Mr Kyle told reporters.

"Since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict, we have made 75 arrests linked to the conflict."

Last Saturday, up to 100,000 protesters took part in a march organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign that moved from Marble Arch to Downing Street.

Ten people were arrested following the protest after fireworks were launched at police officers and five received minor injuries, the Met said. The arrests were for offences involving fireworks, public order and assaulting an emergency service worker.

In the aftermath of the protest police faced criticism from Home Secretary Suella Braverman for not being tougher after "jihad" was shouted by some involved.

London's police chief Sir Mark Rowley held a meeting with Ms Braverman on Monday after which he said laws would need to be changed if the government wanted firmer action.

But police are unlikely to be given more powers to address chants deemed to be extremist, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signalled.

Last Sunday the Met made two arrests after hundreds of people attended a pro-Israel rally in London.

Last Saturday a Tube driver led a chant of “free, free Palestine” on a London Underground train and was suspended pending further investigation into the incident.

This Saturday Mr Kyle said there would be some 2,000 officers on duty across the capital when another pro-Palestinian march is set to take place.

"Our most experienced and knowledgeable officers are working on the policing of these events, making sure we're utilising all of the legislation available to us to its fullest extent," he said.

"We will not tolerate hate crime in this city. We will take really robust action to all those who commit such crimes."

Meanwhile, Commander Dominic Murphy, from the London police's Counter Terrorism Command, said his officers had launched just under 10 investigations into online material referred by the public to police.

Some officers had also been deployed to Israel to support foreign ministry staff and support any investigations which might result from the Hamas attack.

On Wednesday a man, 21, was charged after shouting insults in an aggressive manner at a man in Orthodox Jewish clothing by Stamford Hill station in north London.

On Friday more than 2,700 teddy bears were placed outside the Foreign Office to mark the Palestinian children killed in Gaza.

Organised by the group, Parents for Palestine, a UK-based group made up of non-Jewish and Jewish people, hundreds of parents and children joined the protest.

The group called for the UK Government to end the sales of arms to Israel and for an immediate ceasefire to be called.

There has been an increase in reported threats against Jewish and Muslim communities in many countries, including the United States, since the Gaza war broke out.