Each week, 20,000 posters in the capital bearing faces and names of those snatched by Hamas are removed, say activists
Half of all the posters in London bearing the faces of hostages held in Gaza are being removed within 48 hours, with many of them ripped down as soon as they appear.Posters displaying the faces and names of the hundreds of victims snatched by Hamas and held in Gaza since October 7 have become a familiar sight over the past four weeks.
Volunteers have taped up the distinctive red and white posters, emblazoned with the word “Kidnapped” in large letters, on buildings, telephone boxes, shop shutters, lampposts and street signs in an act of solidarity with the victims in Israel and in an effort to keep the hostages front of mind among the wider public.
In London alone, they are putting up at least 40,000 posters each week, according to campaign co-ordinator Ari, who asked to be identified only by his first name due to safety concerns.But in a disturbing expression of hostility toward the innocent victims, at least 50 per cent of these posters are vanishing from the capital almost as quickly as volunteers can tape them up, according to Ari. Others are defaced. This behaviour is being echoed in other UK cities, and abroad, in the US.
While the community in London is confronted with the sight of the ripped remnants, Greater Manchester Police are investigating after an officer was filmed removing posters stuck to a temporary wall outside a building site close to an area with a large Jewish population.Asked how long most of the posters in London tend to stay up, Ari said: “Twenty-four to 48 hours maximum, [though] some are there for longer.”He estimated that within this time frame, at least 50 per cent are removed.“People, mostly Muslim and ‘free Palestine’ [activists], come and tear them off,” said Ari, an Israeli working in IT.“We instructed the volunteers not to do anything, just take videos [and ask] ‘Why are you doing that?’”
The volunteers work in groups for safety but have been met with aggression and explicit racism at times.Ari said: “A few times I have had some guys shouting… ‘F*** you, f*** off, free Palestine, Jews out, Yahud, go away.’”The number of volunteers arranging for the posters to be printed and putting them up — a few hundred people, the majority of whom are Jewish or Israeli Londoners — is dwarfed by the volume of anti-Israel activists intent on ripping them down.Ari said: “They have so many supporting the idea. We are quite small.”The volunteers in London are working closely with their counterparts in Manchester, where hostage posters are also being removed.Greater Manchester Police is investigating after footage posted to social media on Monday appeared to show a community support officer pulling posters off a temporary wall surrounding a building site in Prestwich, which is home to a large Jewish community.GMP Chief Constable Stephen Watson, said he was “very concerned” and admitted that the officer had “got it wrong”.Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, he said: “My early understanding is that there were a series of complaints about the posters, an officer [was] deployed — in fact it was a PCSO — and the PCSO, under instruction, removed the posters.”
He added that he did not believe the officer’s intent had been “malicious”, saying: ”I think, reading between the lines, this is where we’ve responded badly to a complaint and I think we’ve got it wrong, and we have not operated in accordance with our instructions.”In London, Ari and his fellow volunteers are determined to keep replacing the posters, and have launched an online crowdfunder to help cover the printing costs, which run into hundreds of pounds per week.“At first, we used Sellotape [on the posters] but now we’ve found a much stronger glue, which will make it harder for them to take them off,” Ari said.He added that the volunteers involved in the movement to support the captives in Israel will not be deterred by those who attempt to intimidate them: “The energy is there in the Jewish community in the UK.”Commenting on the quantities of posters being removed, the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Tearing down posters of missing people kidnapped by Hamas terrorists is about the lowest of the low.“This vile behaviour appears to be an attempt to conceal the barbaric abductions and shield the terrorist group behind them from the disgust that the public feels.“It is frightening to think that such animus toward Jews exists so widely on the streets of Britain.”The spokesperson added: “British society urgently needs to remember what our values are.”
If you wish to contribute to the costs of printing the posters, which run into thousands of pounds each which, you can do so here
This story previously stated that 4,000 posters up put up each week in London and 2,000 are removed. It has been amended to include the correct figures: 40,000 and 20,000.