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London community reacts to Israel, Palestine conflict

Rudi Chamria and Ella Friel
Civilians gather in a vigil to commemorate the lives of Israelis who died Oct. 9, and others march at a ‘Free Palestine’ protest Oct. 15. Communities in London have responded to the conflict through respective assemblies.

In response to the ongoing war in Israel and Palestine which escalated Oct. 7, communities around London have gathered to both support and protest.
Vigils were held to commemorate the lives of Israelis who died due to Hamas attacks Oct. 9 and Oct. 15, according to the Independent. Similarly, a vigil was held to honor the lives of Palestinians who died during Israeli attacks in Gaza Oct. 24, according to the BBC. Demonstrations in support of Palestine have taken place every Saturday in different parts of London since Oct. 14, according to AP News.
Chris*, a protestor at the demonstrations Oct. 14, said he wanted to express his support for the Palestinian cause.
“We can already see war crimes happening in terms of the siege of Gaza, the prevention of electricity and water and food from getting in, and the bombardment of civilians within Gaza as well,” Chris said. “They are already war crimes. They are already atrocities.”
Chris said he was “really worried a genocide is going to take place in Gaza,” but also acknowledged “Hamas attacks on Jewish civilians were atrocities.”

Tamara*, another protestor, said she attended demonstrations because her position on the Israeli-Hamas war does not align with the actions and statements from the U.K. government.
“Our own government supports Israel,” Tamara said. “All we can do as people is show that our government doesn’t represent all of us.”
There has been a growing police presence at demonstrations across London as numbers of demonstrators have increased, according to the BBC. 1,000 officers were deployed in Israel-Gaza protests Oct. 14, 1,500 officers Oct. 21 and 2,000 officers Oct. 28.
Police Constable Adam Knight said the role of the police in protests is to protect civilians. Knight said police liaise with protest organizers in order to understand the group’s plan.
“Our biggest tool really is the ability to communicate first and foremost,” Knight said. “Police officers as a whole, we will do our utmost not to have things escalate physically. Sometimes it’s unavoidable.”
Chabad Belgravia Rebbetzin Chana Kalmenson said despite her solidarity with Israel, she strongly believes in preserving the lives of Palestinian civilians.
“We’re all pro-Palestinian innocent people,” Kalmenson said. “That’s who we all are and I think that Palestinians should have a peaceful place to live in that area. And, there needs to be peace for them as well.”

Kalmenson, who attended the Israeli vigil Oct. 9, said she appreciated how the memorial enabled attendees to mourn in peace.
“I went to the vigil and, you know, it was beautiful,” Kalmenson said. “There were hundreds of us simply singing and standing in solidarity with the people of Israel and, you know, I think that is totally the right way to protest – not by saying hateful things against another group or being violent.”
In regards to growing religious hatred due to the conflict, Knight said the Metropolitan Police have designated officers to support victims.
“We have officers that are dedicated to hate crimes,” Knight said. “There are officers that are specifically trained in order to deal with those types of events and this is effectively when they are going to be utilized the most because they’ve had that prior training.”
According to Reuters, the Metropolitan Police stated there has been a 1,353% increase in antisemitic hate crimes and a 140% increase in Islamophobic offenses this October, compared to the same time last year.
Since the rise of the conflict, hate crimes across London have increased, according to Knight. He said he recommends adhering to general safety guidelines when in public.
“Our advice would be similar to what it would be normally,” Knight said. “Safety in numbers. Stay in large groups. Try not to be isolated on your own. Try and maintain a high level of visibility so not going out, you know, late at night and going in areas that are not well lit.”
Kalmenson said she was disheartened by how the public initially reacted to the conflict.
“Watching all of this unfold and watching the world’s reactions is such a radical disappointment for the world that I thought I lived in – in humanity that I thought had evolved since the Holocaust,” Kalmenson said.
On either side of the conflict, Tamara said it was crucial to show solidarity regarding lives lost.
“It’s important that we all show our support given our situation,” Tamara said. “We can’t do anything else.”

Chris and Tamara requested to not disclose their full names due to privacy concerns.

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About the Contributors
Rudi Chamria
Rudi Chamria, Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online
Rudi Chamria (’24) is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online of The Standard. She joined the newspaper in Grade 9 as a staff writer because she enjoys connecting with people through interviewing and utilizing her platform to highlight underrepresented voices. In addition to her role on The Standard, Chamria leads the Social Justice Council, plays tennis and engages in community service.
Ella Friel
Ella Friel, Opinions Editor: Print
Ella Friel (’25) is the Opinions Editor: Print for The Standard. She began journalism in Grade 9 when she joined the paper as a staff writer and has enjoyed being able to write stories and express her opinions on the publication ever since. Outside of the newsroom, Friel is a member of the Community Action Council and enjoys spending her time volunteering and playing tennis.

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