Four Jewish schools in London will close today to keep pupils safe from antisemitic attacks in the wake of Hamas‘s terror attacks on Israel.
Torah Vodaas Primary School in Edgware, Ateres Beis Yaakov Primary School in Colindale and Menorah High School in Neasden told parents last night they would not reopen until Monday. A fourth school will also stay shut today, according to reports.
In a letter to parents, reported by Sky News, Rabbi Feldman, of Torah Vodaas, said while there was ‘no specific threat to our school’ it was ‘not a decision that has been taken lightly’.
Asked about the closures this morning, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Well there’s obviously broader threats, not specific, including some of the absolutely disgusting material we have seen from Hamas who are a terrorist organisation who threaten people all the time.’
He added: ‘So this is really to do with the security of the community, and the Jewish community itself taking decisions. The Government has stepped in with further money in order to work with the community.’
The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that supports British Jewish people, said antisemitic hate crimes had tripled in the four days after Hamas terrorists attacked Israel.
Rishi Sunak yesterday held a roundtable meeting in Downing Street with Home Secretary Suella Braverman and other senior ministers
Following the meeting, the Prime Minister announced £3million in extra funding to protect schools, synagogues and other Jewish community buildings
Mr Shapps added added: ‘People are very concerned, and it’s not surprising when you hear the language coming out of some of these organisations and their supporters.
‘It is of course illegal in the United Kingdom. (Hamas) are proscribed…’
It came as Rishi Sunak vowed to ‘do everything in our power’ to keep British Jews safe in the wake of the violence in the Middle East and a surge in antisemitic incidents in Britain.
The Prime Minister announced £3million in extra funding to protect schools, synagogues and other Jewish community buildings.
They were joined by police chiefs and the CST, which works to provide safety, security and advice to the Jewish community in the UK.
The charity has recorded 139 antisemitic incidents in the last four days. This represents an increase of 400 per cent compared to the same period in 2022.
Amid protests and vigils in central London, the Metropolitan Police made three arrests for assault on an emergency worker, racially-motivated criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon.
Fresh protests and marches are expected to take place across Britain this weekend.
According to local media, more than 1,300 Israelis have been killed since Saturday when Hamas militants launched attacks.
Israel has also identified 97 hostages taken by the terror group. It has responded with airstrikes and a siege of the Gaza Strip, with a ground invasion also expected.
Gaza authorities have said more than 1,400 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded.
Mr Sunak said: ‘This is now the third deadliest terror attack in the world since 1970. The UK must and will continue to stand in solidarity with Israel.
‘At moments like this, when the Jewish people are under attack in their homeland, Jewish people everywhere can feel less safe.
‘That is why we must do everything in our power to protect Jewish people everywhere in our country.
‘If anything is standing in the way of keeping the Jewish community safe, we will fix it. You have our complete backing.’
The PM stressed to police chiefs that they have the Government’s total backing in ensuring that any glorification of terrorism is met with the full force of the law.
Examples of recent antisemitic incidents given by the CST included a Jewish person walking to synagogue in London on Sunday morning being called a ‘dirty Jew’ by a stranger, who said ‘no wonder you’re all getting raped’.
In north east London, the CST said a car slowed down outside a synagogue before the occupants of the vehicle shouted ‘kill Jews’ and ‘death to Israel’ while waving a Palestinian flag.
Sky News reported that two Jewish schols in north London are closing their doors ‘in the interests of the safety of our precious children’.
Torah Vodaas Primary School in Edgware and Ateres Beis Yaakov Primary School in Colindale both informed parents on Thursday evening they would not reopen until Monday.
Rabbi Feldman, of Torah Vodaas, said while there was ‘no specific threat to our school’ it was ‘not a decision that has been taken lightly’.
Mrs Braverman said: ‘Hamas terrorists have carried out barbaric attacks on the people of Israel. They massacred civilians, raped women and kidnapped the most vulnerable.
‘This terrorism is an attack on all of our values. Whenever Israel is attacked, people use legitimate Israeli defensive measures as an excuse to stir up hatred against British Jews. The UK stands unequivocally with Israel.
‘I have been clear with police chiefs in England and Wales that there can be zero tolerance for antisemitism, and that they should act immediately to crackdown on any criminality – both in our streets and online.
‘I have been in close contact with the Community Security Trust whose work helps enhance the security of the British Jewish community.
‘To further support their work, we will be providing them £3 million in funding for additional security guards at Jewish schools, synagogues and in Jewish communities.
‘This is in addition to the £15 million of annual funding provided by the Government.’
The Home Secretary used yesterday’s meeting in Downing Street to urge police chiefs to use their powers, where appropriate, to prevent assemblies blocking roads – including outside Jewish monuments and buildings such as the Israeli embassy.
Mark Gardner, chief executive of the CST said: ‘We are grateful to the Government for providing extra funding for security guards at Jewish community buildings, following the horrific Hamas terror attack on Israel.
‘The support that we and the Jewish community are receiving from across Government and policing is greatly reassuring and welcome at this difficult and worrying time.
‘We will work with the Home Office to ensure that this extra funding is used in the most effective way to enhance the existing security that is in place and provide the Jewish community with the protection that they need and deserve.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited a synagogue in north London and met with Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis
Sir Keir said it was ‘vital that we stand alongside our Jewish friends and neighbours’ at a ‘time of great trauma’
Sir Keir met with rabbis and senior members of the local Jewish community at the South Hampstead Synagogue
The Labour leader was pictured saying goodbye to Rabbi Eli Levin following his visit
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday visited a synagogue in north London and met with Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis.
He said: ‘At this time of great trauma for the community, it is vital that we stand alongside our Jewish friends and neighbours.
‘That is why I visited a local synagogue this morning, to pledge my support and the support of the entire Labour Party to the Jewish community in the United Kingdom and to the Israeli people.
‘These despicable, ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas have set back the prospect of peace in the region. They can only lead to yet more violence and suffering which has taken so many Israeli and Palestinian lives. I utterly condemn them.
‘We stand with Israel and support her right to rescue hostages and defend herself within international law.
‘We must also talk honestly about the impact this has had in our own country. Since these attacks, we have seen an appalling spike in antisemitic incidents in London and across the UK. Any harassment or intimidation towards Jewish communities in Britain is utterly unacceptable.
‘There must be zero tolerance for it. I was touched to learn of the action being taken to maintain and cement interfaith relationships: work which serves as a reminder that hate will never be allowed to divide us.
‘It is also important to say that Labour MPs stand ready to support any constituents who are worried about family members in Israel or Palestine or who are affected by travel restrictions.
‘I know that Jewish people and communities in Britain are feeling great fear, loss and upset.
‘But I want to send them a simple message. You are not alone. We share your pain. We are with you during this dark hour.’
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