A kosher restaurant has been vandalised in north-west London as “Free Palestine” was graffitied on two nearby bridges in the wake of the Hamas attacks on Israel.
The glass entrance of a Jewish-run restaurant in Golders Green was smashed on Monday morning in what locals suspect was an anti-Semitic attack, with the cash register also reported stolen.
Police say that they have reviewed CCTV footage and that the incident is not being treated as a hate crime at this stage.
It comes after abuse was hurled from cars on Sunday at Jewish people in the area, some of whom were returning from synagogue after the Sabbath.
Tom Tugendhat, the Minister of State for Security, this morning visited Pita, the vandalised restaurant in Golders Green, to offer “reassurance” to locals who were left shaken by the incident.
Mr Tugendhat was seen speaking to a crowd of Hasidic Jewish teenagers, some of whom told the minister of their dismay at the attack, yards away from a bridge with the words “Free Palestine’’ scrawled on it.
Mike Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said that Mr Tugendhat had come to let the Jewish community “know he has their back” after a weekend that saw Jewish residents “shouted at from cars” and “graffiti on the bridges” outside Jewish restaurants, followed by this morning’s attack.
He told the Telegraph that the local Jewish community were “fearful” and “very worried” because of the increased hostility, adding: “whenever there are flares in Israel we always see a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Golders Green”.
Police said that they have made “no arrest” in their investigation into the vandalism and burglary in Golders Green, and that at this stage, “the incident is not being treated as a hate crime”.
However, Mr Freer said: “Given what’s happening in Israel, I think it’s more than coincidental and that it couldn’t be anything other than anti-Semitic.
“I hope I’m proved wrong but I think the timing is too coincidental for it to be anything other than an anti-Semitic attack.
From speaking with Jewish constituents in recent days, Mr Freer said: “They’re terrified. It’s not just because of the sense of fear here in Golders Green – they feel vulnerable, which is understandable.
“The local police and the CST (Community Security Trust) have done an amazing job to try and reassure people, who will have friends and family living in Israel, or who are on holiday in Israel trying to get home. So the community are as one and they’re very fearful and very worried.”
Claudia Mendoza, the co-chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said that she was encouraged that Mr Tugendhat came to “reassure the community that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will be punished and that’s what we need to hear right now”.
Ms Mendoza said that she thought the coincidence of the attack with the “Free Palestine” graffiti and “what’s happening in Israel feels very convenient”.
She said that her organisation has been inundated in recent days with messages from concerned members of the Jewish community, some of whom asked: “‘Is there going to be extra security and police outside Jewish schools?’ ‘Should we be going out?’ ‘What things should we be thinking and doing?’”
She added: “There is a real sense of trepidation for the safety of the community, not only regarding vitriol online.”
A spokesman for the Met Police said: “Police were called at approximately 6.10am on Monday Oct 9 to reports of a burglary and damage caused to a restaurant in Golders Green Road, NW11.
“It was reported that a cash register had been stolen.
“Officers have attended the scene and examined CCTV at the location.
“There has been no arrest and enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.
“At this stage, the incident is not being treated as a hate crime.”
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