Police brace for UK terror attack as Hamas issues 'call for jihad'

Police brace for terror attack in Britain after ex-Hamas chief told ‘jihad scholars’ that now is a ‘moment for application’ amid Israel conflict

  • Senior Hamas figure Khaled Meshaal issued implicit call to arms this week 
  • READ MORE: More than 1,000 Met cops to police pro-Palestinian London protest

Police in the UK are on high alert over fears of a domestic terror attack after Israel ordered Palestinians to evacuate from Gaza and Hamas terrorists called on sympathisers to engage in a ‘day of jihad’.

Khaled Meshaal, a former leader of the extremist group who now acts as a messenger to Palestinians living abroad, this week called on ‘all scholars who teach jihad’ to join what he called ‘a moment for the application’ – believed to be a call to arms.

An extra 1,000 police officers were put on duty in London following Meshaal’s comments – and while the UK’s domestic terror alert level is unchanged it remains at ‘substantial’, suggesting an attack is thought to be likely.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said a ‘very significant policing operation’ was in place for the weekend ahead of an expected pro-Palestine march in the capital on Saturday.

In remarks reported by the Mirror, he said: ‘For the moment we are doing largely reassurance and protective security patrols but it would, of course, be absolutely remiss of us not to be working in the background from the counter terrorism policing perspective to understand should there be any increased threats.’

Khaled Meshaal is a former leader of Hamas and now serves as its link with Palestinians living abroad

An extra 1,000 Metropolitan Police officers are on the streets of London after the Hamas dispora chief issued the implicit call to arms

Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said a ‘very significant policing operation’ was in place ahead of a pro-Palestine march in London on Saturday

Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in protests during the ‘day of jihad’ on Friday (pictured: protesters in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank)

Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of London earlier this week outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington

READ MORE – Outrage as women tear down posters of children kidnapped by Hamas and shout ‘This is for Palestine’

He added that counter-terror specialists were assessing whether Meshaal’s comments were likely to incite violence or ‘increase the likelihood of any attacks’.

But tensions are high in the UK, particularly in areas with large Jewish populations, amid a rise in reports of antisemitic abuse following Hamas’ incursion into Israel.

In London, the Met has recorded 105 antisemitic incidents and 75 antisemitic offences in the time period from September 30 to October 13 – a sevenfold increase on the same time period in 2022.

DAC Taylor said offences in the past week included intimidation outside synagogues and loud playing of German military music. 

The force plans to have visited every synagogue in the city by the end of today, and has met 2,000 parents as well as pupils and schools’ leaders, amid worries about the safety of young people.

Staff have checked on more than 200 schools and more than 300 synagogues, mosques and other places of worship.

But supporters of both Israel and Palestine have already clashed in London, after police had to separate them in High Street Kensington Underground station, close to Israel’s British embassy.

Police had to hold back rival groups inside High Street Kensington Tube station on Monday 

In ugly scenes in London, people have been seen tearing down posters raising awareness of Israelis who are believed to have been abducted by Hamas and taken back to Gaza 

Police in Stamford Hill, north London, are shown a poster detailing the alleged kidnap of an Israeli woman at the hands of Hamas

Pro-Palestine campaigners were also seen tearing down posters in London that called for the safe return of Israeli citizens that are believed to have been abducted by Hamas terrorists.

And in another clip, a woman wearing a Palestinian flag sticker on her face allegedly filmed a Jewish man as she taunted: ‘Aww, are all your people dead? Good.’ 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says that areas of London where anxieties are running particularly high will see increased police patrols over the weekend.

READ MORE – Foreign students and academics who praise Hamas or commit anti-Semitic acts risk being expelled from Britain 

Speaking to Sky News, he said: ‘Since Saturday (the Hamas attack) the police have been having additional proactive policing in some of our communities where people are concerned.

‘This weekend, during congregational prayers, the police will be inside the synagogues to show support to the communities but also to provide a contact point for any people who are concerned.

‘If anybody is concerned I’d encourage you to ring your local police, ring 101 or go directly to 999 if it’s an emergency.

‘There will be additional police presence this weekend – police officers will be working longer shifts, leave being cancelled and so forth, to keep our city safe, and that includes of course, those (in) our community who are feeling particularly anxious.’

In France, police broke out tear gas and water cannons to dispel a pro-Palestine process that was deemed illegal for security reasons; Germany has outlawed any expressions of support for Hamas. 

Saturday’s protest in London comes against the backdrop of Israel’s ultimatum to more than a million people living in the Gaza strip, telling them to evacuate to the south of the occupied territory ahead of an expected ground campaign in Gaza City. 

Israel is stepping up its retributal attacks on Hamas after militants carried out terror attacks on Israeli soil on Saturday, breaching the border to indiscriminately gun down innocents in the streets and at a music festival.

Israel has issued an ultimatum to Palestinians in Gaza City – telling them to leave ahead of an expected ground invasion

More than 1million Gazans live in the area that is set to be the focus of an expected Israeli ground assault in the coming days

Families prepare to evacuate from Gaza City following the Israel Defence Force’s ultimatum

A boy carries a mattress on his back as Palestinians prepare to flee Gaza City ahead of an expected Israeli ground incursion

Leaflets are dropped by the Israeli military over Gaza City, telling citizens to ‘immediately’ flee to the south

The Palestinian group’s incursions were condemned internationally, and the ensuing conflict has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 people in less than a week.

The Israeli military said more than 1,300 people, including 222 soldiers, have been killed, while Gaza says another 1,800 people are dead within the territory.

However, the country has also faced criticism for its all-or-nothing warning to Gazans ahead of an expected prolonged ground assault on Gaza City. 

READ MORE: France raises security level to its highest state after killer shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ fatally stabbed a teacher during ‘day of jihad’ rampage 

Huge swathes of Gaza City have been levelled by recurring air strikes, and Israel has sealed the territory off from receiving food, water and medical supplies, as well as electricity.

UN chief Antonio Guterres appealed for the protection of basic human rights and stressed that ‘even wars have rules’.

He added on Friday the situation in Gaza had reached ‘a dangerous new low’ and called for immediate humanitarian access through Gaza to get ‘fuel, food and water to everyone in need.’

In a video message released earlier this week, Hamas diaspora head Meshall called on those who supported Hamas to ‘deliver a message…of anger…and that we are part of this battle’ in the so-called ‘day of jihad’.

He added: ‘To all scholars who teach jihad for the sake of God and whi preach the fighters and martyrs, to all who teach and learn, this is a moment for the application (of theories), so that our words are not just words.’

While the so-called ‘day of jihad’ appears to have passed without major incident in the UK, a fatal attack on a school teacher in France has been linked to the Hamas chief’s call to arms. 

Police in Paris reportedly intercepted another potential Hamas-inspired attack after they arrested a man with a knife; the incidents prompted the French government to raise the country’s terror alert to its highest level.

The UK has five levels of terror alert: low, moderate, substantial, severe and critical.

Intelligence bosses at the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) assess the level on a regular basis, based on ongoing intelligence on terrorist groups, as well as the capabilities and intentions of groups that pose a direct threat to the UK at any time. 

Israel has continued to bombard Gaza City with aerial strikes throughout the week following Saturday’s horrific incursion into Israel by Hamas terrorists

The continued aerial barrage – seen here on Thursday – is expected to be followed by ground action by the IDF

A column of Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers are seen moving along an area at Israel’s border with Gaza on Friday

Israel’s retaliatory air strikes have reduced entire neighbourhoods of Gaza to rubble

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK was doing ‘everything we can to ensure the security of British citizens’ after the Defence Secretary said it seemed ‘very likely’ that there are British hostages in Gaza.

The UK Government had struggled to arrange repatriation flights from Israel but a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said on Friday evening that a government chartered flight has left Israel with further flights expected to leave in the coming days.

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf called for an end to deaths in Gaza and for the international community to “step up”, amid the evacuation orders.

Mr Yousaf said there was “no justification for the death of innocent men, women and children”.

His in-laws are trapped in Gaza, and his wife Nadia El-Nakla has spoken of her torment at the prospect of her relatives living in a refugee camp with no food or water.

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