Antisemitic and Islamophobic offences soar in London after Israel attacks

LONDON (Reuters) – London police said on Friday they had recorded a 1,353% increase in antisemitic offences this month compared to the same period last year, while Islamophobic offences were up 140% in the wake of the attack by Hamas on Israel.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called the rise in antisemitism sickening and vowed that Britain would not tolerate any hatred, as groups which monitor incidents involving Jews and Muslims said cases had soared after Hamas gunmen rampaged through Israeli towns and Israel pounded Gaza in response.

Police in the British capital ramped up patrols amid growing tensions, but said there had been 218 antisemitic offences between Oct. 1 and 18, compared to 15 in the same period in 2022. Islamophobic offences were up to 101, from 42.

“Regrettably, despite the increased presence of officers we have seen a significant increase in hate crime across London,” police said in a statement.

“This includes abuse directed at individuals or groups in person or online, racially or religiously motivated criminal damage and other offences.”

Officers have made 21 arrests for hate crime offences, including a man detained for defacing posters of missing Israelis and another over Islamophobic graffiti on bus stops.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that advises Britain’s estimated 280,000 Jews on security matters, said it had recorded 457 antisemitic incidents across the UK since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 until Oct. 18.

TellMama, which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it had received 200 cases up to Oct. 16.

“The conflict is having a direct impact on London and Londoners, with increasing cases of abhorrent Islamophobia and antisemitism seen in the capital,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said.

A number of pro-Palestinian marches are due to take place in London on Saturday, and the police have said 1,000 officers will be on duty, with restrictions in place around the Israeli embassy and a promise to clamp down on any hate crimes.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Jonathan Oatis)