PM announces extra £3m to protect Jewish schools and military support for Israel

Defence and security Law and Justice Policy & Politics

Rishi Sunak has announced £3 million of extra funding to protect Jewish schools, synagogues and community buildings in the UK after a rise in antisemitic incidents. Britain is also sending warships and aircraft to support Israel following the Hamas attacks.

Two Royal Navy support ships, multi-role Poseidon (P8) planes and around 100 marines are being deployed to the eastern Mediterranean immediately. UK forces – including troops and fighter aircraft – based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus are also on alert ahead of Israel’s expected ground assault on Gaza.

Sunak said: “We must be unequivocal in making sure the types of horrific scenes we have seen this week will not be repeated. Alongside our allies, the deployment of our world-class military will support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation.

“Our military and diplomatic teams across the region will also support international partners to re-establish security and ensure humanitarian aid reaches the thousands of innocent victims of this barbaric attack from Hamas terrorists.”

The prime minister also announced the government will provide an extra £3 million to a charity providing security for British Jews, to be used to boost protection of Jewish schools and buildings in the UK.

The Community Security Trust (CST) charity said antisemitic attacks in the UK have more than quadrupled with 89 anti-Jewish attacks recorded from October 7-10. In the same period last year, 21 such incidents were recorded. CST said the 89 incidents comprise six assaults, three incidents of damage and desecration to Jewish property, 14 direct threats and 66 incidents of abusive behaviour including verbal abuse, graffiti on non-Jewish property, hate mail and online-abuse.

The extra £3 million to CST takes the total funding for Jewish community protection to £18 million for 2023-24. Downing Street said the additional money will enable the charity CST to place more security staff at schools and synagogues.

Sunak said “we must do everything in our power to protect Jewish people everywhere in our country.

“If anything is standing in the way of keeping the Jewish community safe, we will fix it. You have our complete backing.”

While CST has said Jewish schools should remain open, three schools in north London said they will close on Friday because of planned protests in support of Palestine tomorrow (October 13).

One school has warned parents to keep their children inside because “of the risk of violence on the streets.”

In a letter to parents, Esther Pearlman, the head teacher of the Menorah high school for girls –  a state school with 389 pupils – wrote: “The police are concerned that as the girls are not in school, they will venture outdoors and have asked us to advise you that it is incumbent on you as parents that your children remain indoors.”

The other schools are Ateres Beis Yaakov primary school, which has 35 pupils, and Torah Vodaas primary school which teaches 372 children.

A statement by CST said it’s “advice to Jewish schools remains that Jewish life should continue and schools should remain open as normal.

“All Jewish schools have security guards that are paid for by the government, which has today pledged a further £3m towards the cost of security guarding in addition to the measures that are already in place.”

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