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Rishi Sunak visits Jewish school in London to reassure community

London, 16 October : Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday visited a Jewish school here and reiterated his government’s commitment to protect Britain’s Jews from antisemitic attacks amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.

Sunak also stressed that Israel’s operations must centre on the terrorist group Hamas to avoid an escalation of conflict in the region. He pointed to the spy planes deployed by the UK to the eastern Mediterranean region to monitor and prevent arms shipments from landing in terrorist hands.

‘I’m determined to ensure that our Jewish community is able to feel safe on our streets, that there is no place in our society for antisemitism, and we will do everything we can to stamp it out and where it happens,’ said Sunak during his visit to the Jewish school in north London.

He attended an assembly at the secondary school before answering a few questions from those present.

‘I stand with all of you, the Jewish community, not just today, tomorrow but always, and I really mean it. Like many of you, I am different; I come from a different background, and our society is strongest when that diversity is respected. There are people who are trying to stir up hatred and division, and I will always strive very hard to protect that diversity,’ he said.

‘We’ve already sent surveillance aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean last week. They will be able to, as I said, make sure that no arms shipments, for example, have been sent to other terrorist organisations in the region. That’s a practical step that we can take to help ensure that this remains contained to dealing with Hamas and does not spread more broadly in the region,’ he added.

‘Today I met students and staff at a Jewish school in London to show my solidarity with the community. I am doing everything in my power to keep Jewish people in the UK safe, including through extra @CST_UK funding,’ Sunak said in a post on social media platform X.

‘Antisemitism will not stand,’ he added.

The UK prime minister reassured the gathering that the government had handed the police ‘all the tools, powers and guidance’ needed to police pro-Palestinian protests. Over the weekend, 15 arrests were made during such protests, and three people have since been charged with criminal offences. Three others have been referred to Youth Offending Teams, the Metropolitan Police said.

In a message on social media thanking the police force for its policing operation, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman issued another stark warning to anyone displaying support for Hamas or anti-Jewish sentiments.

‘Numerous arrests were made as a result of pockets of disorder, violence and hate. To all those who saw fit to promote genocide, glorify terrorism and mock the murder of Jewish people, including women and babies – the police are coming for you,’ she said.

Sunak also reiterated that support for Hamas, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the UK government, is illegal and could be punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

Last week, he chaired a roundtable meeting with police chiefs and announced GBP 3 million in additional funding for the Community Security Trust, a charity that works to improve the security of the Jewish community, amid a spike in antisemitic attacks in the country since the conflict flared up earlier this month.

As part of diplomatic efforts, Sunak hosted King Abdullah II of Jordan at Downing Street on Sunday.

‘The Prime Minister [Sunak] reiterated the UK’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself following last week’s terrorist attack and said Hamas’ abhorrent actions should not undermine the just cause of the Palestinian people,’ Downing Street said in a readout of the meeting.

Sunak is scheduled to hold further talks with international partners, including Middle Eastern leaders, in the coming days.