LONDON: Footage of vandals tearing down posters of Israeli civilians kidnapped by Hamas has sparked outrage in the UK.
The incident, which took place in Leicester Square on Wednesday night, involved two women and a man forcefully removing the posters. The man appeared to notice that he was being filmed, pulled down his cap, and swiftly departed the scene.
A person behind the camera confronted a woman involved in tearing down the posters, and asked her why she was removing “posters of people kidnapped by terrorists.”
The posters, initially created by Israel’s Hostages and Missing Families Forum following the kidnappings on Oct. 7, have been distributed in various cities worldwide to raise awareness about the captive Israeli citizens.
The video, which was shared by Richard Ferrer, the editor of Jewish News, has triggered a wave of condemnation in the UK, with Jewish organizations raising concern about the lack of police intervention.
The police later said: “At this time, no offenses have been committed.” However, officers pledged to conduct “reassurance patrols” in the area.
The individuals involved in the incident currently remain unidentified. Some British media outlets have referred to them as “activists,” but their specific political affiliations, if any, remain unclear.
In a separate incident in the northern part of the capital, posters featuring images of missing children were defaced with Adolf Hitler mustaches and devil horns. On another poster, someone altered “Hamas” to “real men.”
The incidents have drawn condemnation from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Khan expressed his bewilderment at the actions, saying that it was “contributing to community discord.”
The Israeli Embassy in London also strongly denounced the incidents, and said that: “Defacing images of kidnapped Israeli children with Hitler mustaches is profoundly antisemitic, evoking chilling echoes of the Holocaust.”
The incidents illustrate growing tensions within London, with a surge in both antisemitic and Islamophobic crimes recorded in the capital.
The Community Security Trust, a Jewish safety group, has reported more than 330 hate crime incidents in London since Hamas militants initiated their deadly assault on Israel on Oct. 7.