The Met Police today said they would ‘intervene’ if protesters shout ‘jihad’ during pro-Palestine protests this weekend – as terror cops issued a fresh appeal in the hunt for people with photos of paragliding terrorists and a ‘I support Hamas’ sign.
Around 100,000 protesters took part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London last weekend, with a similar number expected to attend another event on Saturday.
A video emerged of a pro-Palestinian protester chanting ‘jihad’ at one event but officers had said no offences were identified in the footage from the demonstration. Today the Met stopped short of vowing they would arrest people saying the term, saying only that they would ‘intervene’.
Ahead of the weekend, Kyle Gordon, who is leading the force’s command team, told a press briefing: ‘If somebody is calling for jihad specifically against Israel the officers will intervene, gather the information, report it back into us and we’ll be working with colleagues (from counter-terrorism) in relation to what the best course of action is.’
Today, the Met shared new photos of three women who wore hoodies with paragliders on them during last weekend’s marches in London. The pictures are understood to be a reference to motorised gliders used by Hamas during a deadly surprise attack on Israel three weeks ago.
A protestor holding a placard reading ‘I fully support Hamas’ is also among suspects being sought by police.
Ministers reacted angrily after the police said no laws were broken at an event last Saturday where protesters in London called for ‘Muslim armies’ to launch a jihad to ‘liberate Palestine’
Met Police commanders made an urgent appeal to the public for information on four protestors who took part in widespread demonstrations last weekend in support of the proscribed Palestinian terrorist group.
The women were pictured in Whitehall, near The Cenotaph, on Saturday October 14
The Met released their appeal ahead of another planned protest in the centre of the capital this weekend by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Commander Gordon, who will be leading Met policing operations across London this weekend, said he was satisfied that the thousands of officers on duty will be sufficient to police the capital.
But he refused to be drawn on how many would be deployed to the Palestine protest.
Cmdr Gordon also warned protestors that officers would be ‘really responsive’ this weekend, and would ‘not tolerate’ hate crimes.
He told a media briefing: ‘It’s almost three weeks since the most horrific and barbaric attacks on Jewish people since the Holocaust took place.
‘We want all Londoners to feel safe in our city. Hate crimes continue to rise.
‘Tomorrow, we are expecting another large protest in London by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
‘Thousands of officers will be on duty to take action on anyone committing crimes. Wherever possible, we will police right up to the line of the law.’
Cdr Gordon said he had approximately 2,000 officers to police Halloween events, protests – including an anti-Ulez protest as well as the pro-Palestine demonstration – and football matches taking place this weekend.
He added: ‘I have been absolutely clear with my teams and colleagues that we will be really responsive where we see criminality taking place.
‘I want to be clear that we will not tolerate hate crime in this city. We will take action so that people can live in this city free from fear and hate.
‘I hope that gives you an overview of the scale and size of our operation.’
Today, the Met shared new photos of three women who wore hoodies with paragliders on them during last weekend’s marches in London
The pictures are understood to be a reference to motorised gliders used by Hamas during a deadly surprise attack on Israel three weeks ago
A protestor holding a placard reading ‘I fully support Hamas’ is also among suspects being sought by police
Hamas is proscribed in the UK as a terrorist organisation, meaning it is illegal to support it
Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, issued a public appeal for help in tracking down four people involved in pro-Palestinian protests over recent weeks.
Two of the women sought attended a pro-Palestine protest at Whitehall on October 14 with images of paragliders on their tops.
Hamas terrorists are said to have used motorised paragliders to invade Israeli territory in recent attacks – including at the Supernova music festival, where 260 Israeli partygoers were gunned down in a surprise attack.
A third woman sought from the Whitehall protest is seen on CCTV images holding a placard bearing the image of a paraglider.
The first woman is dark-skinned, wearing light brown trousers, a long-sleeved red top with an image of a paraglider on the back, a light-blue medical face mask and a dark scarf or bandana around her head, carrying a dark-red shoulder bag.
The second woman has light brown skin with dark hair clipped up at the back of her head wearing black leggings, black boots and a large black shoulder bag.
She initially wore a dark hooded top – with a paraglider image attached to the back – and later put on a light brown coat.
The third woman is holding the placard adorned with the image of a paraglider and appears to be Afro-Carribean, aged in her 20s to 40s and wearing a large pendant – believed to be green – a dark scarf with a floral pattern on it, a red jacket and red scarf or bandana around her head.
Another protestor police are seeking is a man who attended a protest at Bond Street last Saturday, with short dark hair and light skin, wearing a dark jacket with a light top underneath, a light stripy scarf around his neck and light trousers or jeans.
He was seen waving a homemade, cardboard placard at the protest reading ‘I fully support Hamas’.
Cmdr Murphy urged the public to contact police if they recognised any of the people in the photos released.
The third woman being sought by police for taking an image of a paraglider to last Saturday’s demonstration
Anyone who recognises the protesters being hunted by the Met can contact the force online at gov.uk/ACT or by calling 0800 789 321
He said: ‘Detectives have carried out numerous enquiries to identify these people and we are now asking the public to take a good look at these images and tell us if they know who these people are.
‘I would stress that we want to speak to these people to help us with our enquiries, and in fact, I would urge them to get in touch with us directly.’
He added that counter-terrorism officers had been deployed to Israel, and that the bodies of two Brits killed in the Hamas attacks have since been returned to the UK.
A 31-year-old male arrested for inviting support for Hamas was also rearrested yesterday as a result of further investigations by police, but has since been bailed.
Cmdr Murphy also thanked the public for their support in reporting radical content on social media, saying they had received more than 1,500 such referrals.
‘The kind of material is lots of speeches and frankly graphic and appalling material being referred to us,’ he said.
‘I think this is one of the largest engagements we have had working with public order policing. It’s, definitely in my time, one of the largest.’
Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley differed with ministers this week over how to police pro-Palestine protesters shouting ‘jihad’.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signalled that police are unlikely to be given more powers to address chants deemed to be extremist after the comments at last Saturday’s rally.
That is despite suggestions from Sir Mark that laws may need to be redrawn, amid concerns about gaps in current anti-extremism legislation.
Scotland Yard had pointed out that jihad has ‘a number of meanings’ after officers had spoken to the man to discourage the chanting.
There have been 408 recorded antisemitic offences in London between October 1 and 27, compared to 28 in the same period last year, the force has revealed.
In that time there have been 174 Islamophobic offences compared to 65 in the same period in 2022.
The force has also made 75 arrests linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Meanwhile, officers have made 4,960 visits to vulnerable premises in the capital, including 730 schools and around 3,400 religious places in the last three weeks.
Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has said the Jewish community in the UK are more fearful for their safety than at any time since the end of World War II.
Scotland Yard has confirmed it will not use facial recognition technology to spot any wrongdoers at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Saturday.
It comes as dozens of children laid teddy bears outside the gates of the Foreign Office today to put pressure on the Government to withdraw military support for Israel.
Gathering in central London today, hundreds of parents chanted: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ – a chant that is widely seen as advocating the destruction of Israel.
Today, dozens of children laid teddy bears outside the gates of the Foreign Office today to put pressure on the Government to withdraw military support for Israel
Protesters demanded an immediate ceasefire and called on the Government not to provide arms to Israel
Tearful protesters accused the Government of being ‘complicit’ in the deaths of thousands of children killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza after Hamas militants slaughtered more than 1,000 people in southern Israel.
They demanded an immediate ceasefire and called on the Government not to provide arms to Israel.
The demonstration was organised by a group of parents who said they felt compelled to act as they watched the scenes of destruction in Gaza.
They said they had been ‘overwhelmed’ by support since they announced the protest two days ago.
Clare Welton, 34, a mother of two, helped lead a chant of ‘shame’ against the Government.
She said: ‘The UK Government is saying OK to arms companies increasing their sales to Israel at this time.
‘What we want to see is the UK end its exports to Israel now and push immediately for a ceasefire, an end to the siege and the occupation of Palestine.
‘Every child everywhere deserves safety – every single life is sacred.’
Annie Dowd, 40, a mother of three who helped arrange the protest, told PA: ‘We’re a group of parents absolutely horrified by what we’re seeing every day.
‘We came together literally 48 hours ago and asked other parents to join us and for their children to bring teddy bears to commemorate those who are dying in Gaza with the complicity of our own Government.
‘We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with one and a half thousand parents getting in touch.
‘As a mum, I can’t stomach recent events – I can’t see another Palestinian baby pulled out of the rubble.’
When asked whether Hamas bore some responsibility for the current conflict in Gaza after it launched the worst terrorist attack in Israel in decades, the charity worker said the proscribed group was a ‘question for the Palestinian people’.
She added: ‘Being in the UK, what we can influence is what our Government does – what our Government is doing right now is supporting Israel who are responsible for the deaths of over two and a half thousand children.’
- Anyone who recognises the protesters being hunted by the Met can contact the force online at gov.uk/ACT or by calling 0800 789 321.