Waving a Palestinian flag on British streets ‘may not be legitimate’, Suella Braverman warns | UK News

Waving a Palestinian flag on British streets “may not be legitimate” if it is done to show support for acts of terrorism, the home secretary has told police chiefs.

In a letter to chief constables across England and Wales, Suella Braverman urged officers to use the “full force of the law” against shows of support for Hamas following its unprecedented attack against Israel.

It comes after vigils were held in Westminster for Israeli civilians killed and held captive, while pro-Palestinian rallies took place outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington.

Read more: Israel vows to ‘wipe out’ Hamas – live updates

Ms Braverman said targeting Jewish neighbourhoods, waving pro-Palestinian or pro-Hamas symbols, and chanting anti-Israeli slogans could all amount to public order offences.

Hamas has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UK and many other Western nations, including the EU and the US.

Because of this, she reminded police forces that it is a criminal offence for people in the UK to:

• Belong to Hamas or invite support for the group

• Wear clothing in public that suggests they are a member or supporter of Hamas

• Publish images of flags or logos linked to the organisation

Ms Braverman joined officers in a patrol of Golders Green on Monday

“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,” Ms Braverman wrote.

 Suella Braverman speaks to volunteers during a visit to Bolton Lads and Girls Club
Suella Braverman has written to the UK’s chief constables

She added unrest in the Middle East has previously been used “as a pretext to stir up hatred against British Jews” – and there is an “obvious risk this pattern will be repeated during the current conflict”.

“In the past, this has included vandalism of Jewish businesses, desecration of memorials and religious sites, physical and verbal abuse of Jews on the streets, convoys driving through Jewish neighbourhoods hurling antisemitic abuse, and proliferation of antisemitism online,” she warned.

Read more:
Babies killed in Hamas attack, Israel says
Why is Hamas in conflict with Israel?
What is life like in the Gaza Strip?

A Tube train bridge, branded with 'Free Palestine' graffiti, is seen in in Golders Green, London, Britain, October 9, 2023. REUTERS/Anna Gordon
‘Free Palestine’ was daubed on a railway bridge in north London

On Monday, a kosher restaurant in Golders Green – an area of north London with a significant Jewish population – had its windows smashed and a cash register stolen, while “Free Palestine” was daubed on a nearby railway bridge.

The graffiti is being investigated as a potential hate crime by the British Transport Police, with local authorities describing it as a “deliberate attempt to intimidate the Jewish community”.

A vandalised Kosher restaurant is seen near a bridge with 'Free Palestine' painted on it, in Golders Green in London, Britain, October 9, 2023. REUTERS/Anna Gordon
A kosher restaurant was vandalised in Golders Green

Ms Braverman went on to stress online offending must be treated as seriously as offline incidents – and all perpetrators must face “heavy criminal consequences” to prevent future incidents and ensure Jewish communities feel safe.

“There can be no place for antisemitism or glorification of terrorism on the streets of Britain,” she added.