Bid to firebomb synagogue as protests grow

By Craig Silver, January 8, 2009

An attempt was made to firebomb a London synagogue at the weekend in a protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The attack, just before midnight on Sunday, at Brondesbury Synagogue in Willesden, North-West London, was the most serious of 25 antisemitic incidents that have occurred since Israel launched its operation on December 27.

Firemen were called to put out a fire that had been started at the front door of the United Synagogue premises. A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said the fire had almost certainly been started by an accelerant. An empty petrol can had been found nearby.

According to a Community Security Trust spokesman, the attackers attempted to smash a window and throw in a petrol bomb but were prevented from doing so by protective security film. “They then attempted to set light to the front door with petrol, causing damage to the exterior,” he said.

The police spokesperson said they were aware of three youths, described as Asian and aged between 16 and 23, seen in the area of the synagogue, though they were not seen starting the fire. Police in Brent have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

In North-West London, a gang of between 15 and 20 youths rampaged down Golders Green Road last Wednesday trying to force their way into Jewish restaurants and shops. A motorist was dragged from his car and assaulted. The following day, another car was driven up and down the road while its occupants shouted antisemitic slogans.

Graffiti has appeared on communal buildings in North-East London and in Jewish areas in Manchester. Jewish organisations and individuals have also been the targets of graffiti and abuse, via post and e-mail.

Demonstrations and rallies protesting against Israel’s actions in Gaza were held in a number of UK centres on Saturday. About 2,000 demonstrators in Central London tried to reach the Israeli embassy.

After clashes with police, 13 people were arrested for public order offences.

Last updated: 7:58pm, January 8 2009