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19 May, 2021 15:23

PM Johnson says he shares ‘horror’ over spike in anti-Semitic incidents in UK, promises support to Jewish community

PM Johnson says he shares ‘horror’ over spike in anti-Semitic incidents in UK, promises support to Jewish community

The British authorities won’t allow anti-Semitism to ‘grow and fester’ in the country, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed, amid a spike in attacks on Jews, following the outbreak of hostilities in Gaza.

More than 100 anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded in Britain since May 8, when protests took place in Jerusalem in response to the proposed evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the incursion of the Israeli security forces into the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third-most important religious site in Islam. These incidents brought to a head the tensions between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, and provoked the ongoing deadly cross-border exchange.

The data coming from the Community Security Trust (CST), which consults with the UK’s estimated 280,000 Jews on security issues, reveals a fivefold increase in such incidents since the current Israeli-Palestinian flare-up.

On Sunday, a rabbi in Chigwell, Essex, was hospitalised with concussion after being attacked in the street. The police arrested two men on suspicion of religiously aggravated assault.

The same day, a convoy of cars draped in Palestinian flags was filmed driving around the predominantly Jewish neighbourhood of Finchley broadcasting anti-Semitic slogans.

In addition, Jewish leaders have been receiving messages with threats, and anti-Semitic graffiti has been daubed on synagogues, CST said.

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As Johnson appeared before Parliament on Wednesday, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, questioned him on the government’s response to the “appalling rise in anti-Semitic attacks” in Britain.

“I share his horror at the outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents,” the prime minister responded, assuring that his government  had “conveyed that message loud and clear to those who are responsible for enforcing the law against hate crime.”

“As a country and as a society ... we call this out at every stage. We will not let it take root, we will not allow it to grow and fester,” Johnson insisted.

During more than a week of violence, Hamas has fired over  3,000 rockets towards Israeli territory, the Israel Defense Forces said. Those attacks have killed at least 12 people in Israel and left more than 50 injured, according to media reports, citing police and health officials.

The death toll as the result of Israel’s retaliatory strikes on densely populated Gaza is thus far 219, including more than 60 children, the territory’s Health Ministry said.

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Despite international calls for a ceasefire, Israel said on Wednesday that it was not setting any timeframe for an end to the fighting. “We’re not standing with a stopwatch. We are taking care of the operation’s objectives,” Israeli PM Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out. 

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