'It's inexplicable': Mayor condemns ripping down of Israeli hostage posters in London

  • People tearing down posters of Israeli hostages are leaving London's Jewish community feeling both frustrated and vulnerable, ITV News London Political Correspondent Simon Harris reports

Footage showing people tearing down posters of Israeli hostages from a wall in Leicester Square has been condemned by Sadiq Khan.

The Mayor of London told ITV News he "simply doesn't understand" why the group would take down the posters, adding that it is "leading to community discord".

"It's leading to Londoners who are Jewish being scared. They're feeling very vulnerable, the rest of us should show some understanding of what they are going through."

He said it is possible to condemn Israel's blockading and bombardment of Gaza while also having sympathy for the Jewish community and the family of the 200 people taken hostage by Hamas.

The Metropolitan Police said it reviewed the footage from Leicester Square, posted on social media around 10pm on Tuesday.

Sadiq Khan told ITV London's Simon Harris how people tearing down posters of Israeli hostages are contributing to "community discord" in the capital

While the force said it would be in the area carrying out "reassurance patrols", it added that "at this time, no offences have been committed".

Mr Khan said that even if the threshold for the police to take action hadn't been reached, he said it was "still in bad taste".

"What I'd say to those who are tearing these posters down is, 'stop it, there is no reason at all to tear these posters down, they're doing no harm'.

"What we can't afford to happen is for tensions and disturbance in the Middle East to affect our communities in London."

Conservative London mayoral candidate disagreed with the police's approach, telling ITV News: "This is nothing short of a hate crime and the Met Police must urgently take action on this.

Watch: Moment group of people rip down posters in Leicester Square showing hostages taken captive by Hamas

"The division and toxicity we are seeing in our city over this conflict should concern us all and much more needs to be done to bring Londoners back together."

This is not the first case of people tearing down or vandalising posters in the capital showing hostages in Gaza, with a number of videos circulating social media since Hamas and Israel's latest round of conflict on October 7.

On Wednesday the Met said it was investigating the vandalism of one missing poster in Finchley Road after someone drew Hitler-style moustaches on the faces of two Jewish children.

A poster in Charlotte Street shows a man believed to have been kidnapped by Hamas. Credit: PA

In a statement, the force said: "We are investigating and treating this as a hate crime. There is no place in London for this behaviour. "If you have any info to assist our investigation please contact us urgently. Call 101 - Ref: CAD2459/25Oct23."

It's just one sign of growing tensions within London, with a surge of both antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes recorded in the capital.

The Met's response to pro-Palestine protests has attracted some criticism, with Suella Braverman meeting Chief Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley to ask why officers did not take action against protesters on Saturday chanting "jihad".

Sir Mark said the word has a number of different meanings and that no offences could be identified, but some, including the Campaign Against Antisemitism group, have said the force hasn't been doing enough.

Announcing a rally outside Scotland Yard on Wednesday evening, the charity said: "As Jews, we are enormously grateful to the police for protecting our Jewish community and for keeping our cities safe.

"But over the past two weeks, our cities have felt less and less safe for Jews. It has hardly been reassuring to see such lax policing of demonstrations featuring genocidal chants, antisemitic signs, calls for Jihad against the Jewish state, and more.

"Given that a 'March for Palestine' and other demonstrations are planned for this weekend and are likely to continue week after week, the Met must be seen to make urgent changes to its policing policy."

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