Waving Palestine flag in UK not legitimate during current conflict, warns UK home secretary
Home secretary Suella Braverman has written to police chiefs across England and Wales to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Islamic militant organisation Hamas
UK home secretary Suella Braverman has warned that activities considered legitimate under usual circumstances may not be legitimate now, including the waving of Palestinian flags on British streets if the purpose is to “glorify acts of terrorism” in the context of the conflict in Israel.
In a letter to police chiefs in England and Wales on Tuesday, 10 October, the Indian-origin cabinet minister called on police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Islamic militant organisation Hamas, and attempts to harass or intimidate British Jews. Her directives came as the Israeli flag was unfurled at the home office building in central London in a show of solidarity with Israel.
“At a time when Hamas terrorists are massacring civilians and taking the most vulnerable (including the elderly, women, and children) hostage, we can all recognise the harrowing effect that displays of their logos and flags can have on communities,” reads Braverman’s letter to the police chiefs.
“Context is crucial. Behaviours that are legitimate in some circumstances, for example, the waving of a Palestinian flag, may not be legitimate such as when intended to glorify acts of terrorism. Nor is it acceptable to drive through Jewish neighbourhoods, or single out Jewish members of the public, to aggressively chant or wave pro-Palestinian symbols,” the letter said.
Where such harassment is identified, the minister called on police forces to take swift and appropriate enforcement action.
“There can be no place for anti-Semitism or glorification of terrorism on the streets of Britain. I therefore expect the police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas, other proscribed terrorist groups, or attempts to harass and intimidate British Jews,” she added.
The appeal came as a video emerged online from northern England, showing a man scaling the Sheffield Town Hall building to replace an Israeli flag with a Palestinian one. South Yorkshire Police said no arrests had been made following the protest on Tuesday as enquiries remain "ongoing".
"Everyone has the right to safe and peaceful protest but we cannot support the events that took place during the protest outside Sheffield's Town Hall. Protesters put themselves and others in serious danger," said Tom Hunt, leader of Sheffield city council.
Many UK government buildings have been flying the Israeli flag since the Hamas strikes triggered a deadly conflict in the Middle East over the weekend. Downing Street projected a flag as a show of solidarity before British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed a synagogue in London to condemn the acts of terror.
“There are no two sides to these events. There is no question of balance. I stand with Israel. We stand with Israel. The United Kingdom stands with Israel against this terrorism today, tomorrow, and always,” he declared earlier this week.
In a joint statement with US president Joe Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, Sunak expressed “steadfast and united” support to the state of Israel and the “unequivocal condemnation” of Hamas for its "appalling acts of terrorism".
According to reports, 17 British nationals, including children, are feared dead or missing in Israel in the raging conflict.