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Rishi Sunak condemns 'horror and barbarism' of Hamas attacks, vows to protect Jewish community

Rishi Sunak acknowledged the existence of "shameful anti-semitism" and "intimidating behaviour" against Jewish community in the UK and promised strong action against these acts. Meanwhile, thousands of pro-Palestinian supporters marches into the streets of London chanting anti-Israeli slogans.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee London Published on: October 15, 2023 17:11 IST
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Image Source : AP British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday condemned the "horror and barbarism" of the unprecedented attack on Israel unleashed by the Palestine-based Hamas group on October 7 and vowed to support Israel in restoring security after one week of the ongoing war.

In a statement from 10 Downing Street, Sunak said, "No words can begin to describe the horror and barbarism unleashed in Israel a week ago. Daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, grandparents taken from people in the cruelest and most horrific way possible. Hundreds of people have been killed, many wounded or missing and others living through the unimaginable agony of having a loved one kidnapped and held hostage."

Sunak acknowledged that there were British citizens among those killed or captured by Hamas militants in Israel and expressed condolences for the families of the victims. He also promised to protect the Jewish community in the United Kingdom from anti-semitic acts.

"We’ve seen intimidating behaviour and shameful antisemitism online and on our streets with attempts to stir up tensions. I say: not here. Not in Britain. Not in our country. Not in this century. We will do everything we possibly can to protect Jewish people in our country," he said.

Sunak's remarks came as thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in London and chanted anti-Israel slogans. At least 15 people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences and criminal damage. Notably, the UK houses a large Jewish population as well as a Muslim population.

"I am unequivocal. We stand with Israel, not just today, not just tomorrow, but always. And I stand with you, the British Jewish community, not just today, not just tomorrow, but always," Sunak said in his concluding remarks.

Additionally, British opposition leader Keir Starmer also marked one week of Hamas strikes on Israel followed by retaliatory actions and called for safe humanitarian corridors for Palestinians in Gaza fleeing violence. "A week ago, we awoke to the unimaginable and heartbreaking news of terrorist attacks on Israel from Gaza by Hamas,” he said.

Anti-semitism since the Israel-Hamas war

It is worth noticing that since war broke out between Israel and Hamas militants, anti-semitic activities have been reported in European countries. According to Euronews, a synagogue was vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti in Madrid, Spain, while several people have been arrested in France for over 50 anti-Semitic acts.

Notably, France has the world's third-largest Jewish population after Israel and the United States, and the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. Darmanin has banned pro-Palestinian protests due to unrest over the Israel-Hamas war and the rise in anti-semitic activities across the country.

Darmanin directed local authorities to further tighten security around Jewish schools, synagogues and other sites and said that pro-Palestinian demonstrations should be banned, and people who defy the ban to be arrested as they are "susceptible to disrupt public order".

The Macron government registered 24 arrests for over 100 anti-semitic actions in France since the Hamas attack on Saturday. Some people have been caught with knives near Jewish schools and a drone was spotted over a Jewish cultural centre.

In Britain, the Jewish community said that anti-Semitic incidents have risen by 324% since this weekend's Hamas attack. Several Jewish schools in London to suspend classes this week fearing rise in such acts.

The week-long war has already claimed over 3,600 lives on both sides and sent tensions soaring across the region. The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 2,329 people have been killed in the territory, including 724 children and 458 women, the Palestinian health ministry said. On the other hand, over 1,300 people have died in Israel from the Hamas attack since last week.

(with agency inputs)

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