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CAMPAIGNERS in east London are hosting a vigil tomorrow against the Metropolitan Police’s “disturbing” decision to welcome a police delegation from Israel to the area.
Hackney police sparked fury last month after announcing on Twitter that the force had been delighted to host a delegation from Israel, which it said also joined a local police patrol.
The visit took place just days after Israeli security force officers fatally shot Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and attacked mourners at her funeral.
Locals will hold a vigil on Tuesday outside Stoke Newington police station at 8pm to demand the Met cut all future ties with Israeli forces.
Vigil organiser the Hackney Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it had written to Hackney Council to express concerns about the delegation but said the authority’s response had “ignored that Israeli police enforce the country’s violent occupation of Palestinian land.”
Akram Sahleb, a Palestinian resident of the borough, said: “It is really shocking to us that the Israeli police force — famous across the globe for its brutality towards Palestinians — would be seen as a credible partner to work with, learn from, or allow onto the streets of Hackney.”
Mr Sahleb is among a group of Palestinians living in the borough who have also written to Hackney Mayor Philip Granville with their concerns.
“We should be free to live in our borough without being confronted with representatives of the regime responsible for forcibly expelling, killing, beating and injuring our family and friends in Palestine,” the letter reads.
The letter describes the visit as the latest in a series of incidents displaying Hackney police’s “utter disregard towards the human rights of citizens in the borough,” citing the Child Q scandal and immigration raids on Deliveroo drivers.
Mr Salhab wrote: “Their already dire record will not be improved by collaborating with Israeli police that routinely beat, torture, shoot and violently arrest Palestinians, or spray them with skunk water and tear gas, often whilst dispossessing them of their homes.
“Many residents of the borough are deeply disturbed by what has taken place and are demanding explanations and reassurances that this will not happen again.”
In a statement,the Met said that the delegation was part of a pre-planned visit arranged months in advance, in which Central East local officers discussed “examples of good work, challenges and issues the local people care about, and how the Met works.”
“The Met regularly host visitors from around the world who are keen to learn from us and understand how we police the communities we serve and engage with local people,” the statement adds.
Hackney Council cabinet member for community safety Susan Fajana-Thomas said she had sought assurances from the Met about the nature and timing of the visit.
“The police confirmed that it was a learning and development visit by a delegation of senior Israeli police officers to the Met aimed at sharing good practice and experience of neighbourhood policing in areas with large Orthodox Jewish communities, including Barnet and Hackney,” she said.
“In Hackney, we will continue to listen to concerns, hold the police to account and promote open and constructive dialogue between communities.”
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