IDF spokesman says Israel ‘troubled’ by antisemitism in Britain

The Israeli military is “troubled” by the rise in antisemitism in Britain since Hamas’s attack on Tel Aviv, the Jewish community has been told.

It comes after the Community Security Trust (CST), a UK Jewish charity, said it had recorded about 800 incidents of antisemitism since October 7, when Palestinian militants killed about 1,400 people on Israeli soil and took more than 200 people captive.

Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), appeared to suggest that news of the increase in antisemitic incidents in the UK had reached his country, which is currently fighting back against Hamas in Gaza.

He claimed that some pro-Palestinian campaigners were “thinly-veiled Israel haters and Jew haters”.

Mr Conricus, who often briefs reporters on the IDF’s activities in Gaza, said: “I’m aware and troubled by the many manifestations of antisemitism and Jew hatred in Britain.

“We see it, it is reported in Israel as well.

“My best wishes go out to you … I hope you will find it within you to be brave, strong, unrelenting and be able to stand up against the masses of thinly-veiled Israel haters and Jew haters who claim to be speaking about the rights of Palestinians and political solutions.

“That is all nonsense. None of this is about Palestinian rights or the end to a conflict.

“This is about a terrorist organisation that invaded our communities, butchered more than 1,000 Israeli civilians in their homes on purpose, by design, and also went on to take more than 224 hostages.

“That is what this is about, nothing else and please don’t get confused about it.”

His comments, recorded on Friday, were broadcast during an online Jewish community briefing arranged by the Board of Deputies of British Jews on Sunday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also recorded a video for the briefing, reiterating his support for UK Jews and Israel.

He said: “It sickens me to think that British Jews are looking over their shoulder in this country, that children are going to school covering up their school badges for fear of attack.

“The antisemitic demonstrations and call for jihad are not only a threat to our Jewish community but to our democratic values and we will not stand for it.

“Not here, not in our country, not in this century. A threat to you is a threat to all of us and I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”

He added: “When I said I will stand with you, I meant it. And however difficult the days ahead may become, I will keep that promise.”

The Government has given CST an additional £10 million to help support additional security around Jewish schools and synagogues.

CST chief executive Mark Gardner told the briefing that his organisation had been working with ministers and police to “improve the handling of anti-Israel demonstrations” in Britain.

He said police support for Jewish neighbourhoods had been “excellent” since October 7, with increased police presence at schools and at transport hubs used by Jewish children.

Mr Gardner said it had a counter-terrorism officer based with CST and two officers situated in its control centre, allowing for immediate responses to reports of antisemitism or suspicious behaviour.

In Manchester, he said there were six officers dedicated to receiving reports about antisemitic activity from CST and the wider community.

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated his support for the Jewish community in Britain (Jonathan Buckmaster/Daily Express/PA)

“Antisemitic incidents are very high right now,” he said.

“In these last three weeks we’ve recorded the same number of antisemitic incidents as we did in the first six months of the year. That is approximately 800 incidents.

“Very few of them have been particularly violent. The most common thing is, ‘free Palestine’ being yelled at Jewish people, the ripping down of hostage posters is a flash point, as is the situation on many campuses around the country.”

The briefing occurred after more than 300 people gathered outside the Qatari embassy in central London on Sunday to call on Doha to try and secure the release of hostages.

Around the same time, Bristol was home to the latest pro-Palestine demonstration after thousands took to the streets of cities such as London, Belfast and Glasgow on Saturday to demand a ceasefire.

The Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry says more than 8,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s retaliation over the past three weeks.