The Metropolitan Police has confirmed it is investigating the vandalisation of Hamas hostage posters in London as a hate crime.
Tel Aviv then declared war and announced a siege on the Hamas-run territory of Gaza. More than 5,700 Palestinians have been killed since, according to Gaza officials.
Photos of the remaining captives have also been put on posters all over London.
However, they have since been defaced, according to images shared on X (formerly Twitter). The Israeli captives’ faces have been graffitied with devil horns and in some cases a so-called “Hitler moustache”.
One poster which reads that the individual pictured had been “kidnapped from his home by Hamas” – only for vandals to cross out the name of the militant group and replace it with the words “real men”.
A few hours after photos of a few vandalised posters were uploaded to X, the Met replied: “We are investigating and treating this as a hate crime. There is no place in London for this behaviour.”
According to the Met’s website, a hate crime is defined as: “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”
Previous footage of people trying to pull the posters down around Leicester Square prompted a spokesperson for Sadiq Khan to tell LBC: “The [London] Mayor thinks this behaviour is completely unacceptable.
“The horror the hostages and their families are going through is truly unimaginable.”
The spokesperson said Khan wants Londoners to “stand together” in the “most diverse city in the world” and stop people trying to “sow the seeds of division” over the situation in the Middle East.
That particular footage – where the people in question did not deface the posters, but aimed to pull them off walls – was seen by the Met.
The force said: “Officers will continue to be in the area carrying out reassurance patrols. At this time, no offences have been identified.”
The Met has pinned a post at the top of their X page condemning hate crimes in general amid growing concerns for the Jewish community in the UK.
Several Jewish schools closed in the days shortly after the war broke out over safety concerns.
The hostages, held all over Gaza, are still a pressing concern in the war, especially as they include the elderly, some children and some peace activists.
The US still discouraging its ally Israel to launch a ground offensive until all of the captives are released.
The Hamas militants also claim more than 20 of its captives have been killed by Israeli air strikes.
Of the four who have been released, one – 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz – has spoken to the media. She said the day of her abduction was “hell” but suggested she had been well looked after while being held captive.