POLICE have arrested a 22-year-old woman in England suspected of having made a speech backing Hamas, despite laws forbidding explicit support for banned organisations, the local force said Friday (13).
The woman was detained under the terrorism act Thursday (12) following an investigation into a speech given at a protest on Sunday (8) in Brighton, police said.
Police want to speak to anyone who attended the demonstration, particularly those who may have footage of the protest and speech, said a statement from the Sussex force.
Hamas, whose gunmen launched the deadliest ever attack on Israel, is a banned terrorist organisation in the UK. The group’s weekend assault from Gaza has triggered a war that has already claimed thousands of lives.
Hamas members — or those who are found guilty of inviting support for the group — can be jailed for up to 14 years under British law.
The arrest comes after prime minister Rishi Sunak vowed earlier this week to “hold people to account” if they were found to be supporting Hamas.
His home secretary, Suella Braverman, told police chiefs to use the “full force of the law” against displays of support for Hamas and any attempts to intimidate Britain’s Jewish community.
Hamas’s military wing was proscribed by the British government in 2001. The ban was extended to cover all of Hamas in November 2021.
The group’s attack on Saturday killed more than 1,300 Israelis and its militants took about 150 more hostage.
Israel has killed more than 1,500 people in strikes on the Gaza Strip in response to the attack, and has cut off the supply of food, water and electricity there.
A march in solidarity with the Palestinian people is due to take place in London on Saturday.
The city’s police force said this week that general expressions of support for Palestinians, “including flying the Palestinian flag, does not, alone, constitute a criminal offence”.
Three Jewish schools in North London closed for the day on Friday, citing security risks posed by planned protests in support of Palestinians, the BBC reported.
The government announced £3 million of extra funding to help protect the Jewish community from anti-Semitic attacks, after a reported 400 percent spike in incidents since the Hamas assault.