Defence minister says ‘celebration and glorification’ of Hamas’ attack on Israel is ‘despicable’

A defence minister has called the “celebration and glorification” of Hamas’ attack on Israel “despicable” this morning.

James Heappey, the armed forces minister, was referring to pictures of a pro-Palestine demonstration in London on Saturday which appeared to show two women wearing images of paragliders.

Paragliders were used by Hamas during their deadly attack on civilians in Israel last weekend, leaving some 1,300 people dead.

Metropolitan Police officers investigating a public order offence have released a picture of the two women in the hope of identifying them.

In total, seven arrests were made during the London demonstration, four in breach of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, two for public order offences and one for criminal damage.

Asked this morning on Sky News about the demonstration, Heappey said: “I think that that celebration, glorification of what happened last Saturday is despicable. 

“I was a soldier now I’m a minister in defence. Never once have I celebrated the demise of my adversaries. And so even if those women who were wearing those stickers regard Israelis as their enemy, even if they want to see … the state of Israel [removed]”.

He added: “The idea that they celebrate and glorify that loss of human life is just despicable to me, and I’m glad the police are acting. I hope that those two particularly are found”.

Since last weekend, there has been a rise in both antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents reported to the Metropolitan police.

Before the protests on Saturday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “Our role as an independent and impartial service is to balance the right to lawful protest with potential disruption to Londoners.

“People do not have the right to incite violence or hatred. The law is clear that support for proscribed organisations is illegal.

“Anyone with a flag in support of Hamas or any other proscribed terrorist organisation will be arrested.

“We will not tolerate the celebration of terrorism or death, or tolerate anyone inciting violence.”

In the United States, Black Lives Matter Chicago was forced to apologise earlier this week after sharing a picture of a paraglider with the message “Free Palestine”.

The organisation tweeted on October 10: “Yesterday we sent out [messages] that we aren’t proud of. We stand with Palestine & the people who will do what they must to live free. Our hearts are with, the grieving mothers, those rescuing babies from rubble, who are in danger of being wiped out completely.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.