A convoy organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism displaying images of Israeli children currently believed to be held hostage by Hamas was told to switch off their billboards by police or they would face “breach of peace” charges, the charity has said.
The convoy has been travelling through central London’s most famous landmarks this week to draw attention to the atrocities carried our by terrorist group Hamas, and to “make sure London knows” about the almost 200 hostages still captured.
As well as featuring the images of the missing children and their ages, the vans also displayed the hashtag #BringThemBack and has been driven through Trafalgar Square, St Pauls, Big Ben, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.
After making its way through London peacefully on Wednesday, the convoy was stopped by anti-Israel protestors yelling: "One, two, three, four, occupation no more, five, six, seven, eight, Israel is a terrorist state", footage shared by the charity shows. Police officers then instructed the volunteers, and then the charity's boss, to switch off their billboards.
“I’ve just had one of the most disturbing experiences in nine years at Campaign Against Antisemitism.”— Campaign Against Antisemitism (@antisemitism) October 19, 2023
Who are the police protecting here?
Those standing up to terrorists, or those who sympathise with them?
We are considering our legal options and a public protest. pic.twitter.com/2eTwhXZk19
In footage posted to X/Twitter, CAA chief executive Gideon Falter described the experience as “one of the most disturbing” in the nearly a decade working at the charity, and told how he received a call from “really shaken up” volunteers who had been shooting footage of the convoy, having been stopped in their tracks by a group of protestors.
Falter said he was “astonished” that the police told the convoy go elsewhere, asking: “How on earth could police stop people in central London, in our capital, from showing the pictures of children kidnapped by a terrorist organised banned by our government?”
Gideon Falter described the encounter as “one of the most disturbing experiences" he has had in nine years working at the CAA (Photo: CAA)
In a statement, Falter said: “Our volunteers were left shaken by the protesters who were harassing and intimidating them, and the police did nothing.
"Instead, the officers told our drivers to turn off their billboards and stop showing the faces of children kidnapped by a proscribed terrorist organisation, apparently because their sympathisers on British streets might attack us for showing them.
"Then when I attended the scene the police did the same thing, going so far as to restrain me, supposedly for my ‘own safety’.
“Before we set out, we had worried that these billboards might attract attention from Hamas sympathisers. We never imagined that it would be the police who would stop us from showing the faces of children kidnapped by a terrorist group banned by the UK Government."
The CAA is now considering its legal options after an “abysmal failure to uphold our rights and protect British Jews," Falter said.
The Met Police said in a statement: "We have watched the video and we understand why this has caused concern. The officers were in the area because of a vigil that was happening nearby organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
"We have reviewed the body-worn video of the officers involved to establish the full sequence of events. This exchange happened at around the same time as the vigil came to an end and the priority of officers was the safety of everyone involved and those nearby.
"We will be making contact with the Campaign Against Antisemitism to discuss the matter further and update them on the work taking place across the Met to tackle hate crime."