Anti-Semitism ‘doubled’ after Middle East conflict

Anti-Semitism ‘doubled’ after Middle East conflict

Police have been asked to take "proactive measures" to prevent further anti-Semitic incidents across Britain, after November's Israel-Gaza clashes prompted a spike in anti-Semitism.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors anti-Semitic incidents, suggested a possible doubling in the total number took place during one week in the London area as a result of violence in the Middle East.

Israel came under serious criticism from across the international community for its air raids on Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip, following rocket attacks by Hamas militants on Israeli territory. Around 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed in the eight-day conflict.

This led to an increase in protest activity linked to events, noted by the Association of Chief Police Officers' national community tension team (NCTT) last month.

"Historical precedents point towards the potential for such an increase as NCTT saw with the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2008-09," communities minister Don Foster told the Commons in a written answer.

There were "no significant tensions or changes in levels of hate incidents" noted through standard tension monitoring processes, however.

But CST highlighted a number of hate crime incidents which they believed had occurred as a result of events in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

"Most reports were of verbal anti-Semitic abuse, graffiti and inflammatory postings on Facebook and Twitter," Foster stated.

"In light of this NCTT has reminded all police forces of the potential for an increase in anti-Semitic incidents and they have been asked to take proactive measures where appropriate and to report any critical changes to NCTT as a matter of urgency."

Tensions remain high in the Middle East. Saturday saw Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal issue a defiant speech to a large crowd in Gaza, alongside a large replica of the kind of rocket used against Israel.

Meshaal said: "There is no legitimacy for occupation. Hence, there is no legitimacy for Israel, however long time lasts."

Israel's government spokesman Mark Regev said Meshaal's message was one rejecting peace and reconciliation – "a message that says every Israeli man, woman and child is a legitimate target".