Police investigate after war memorial daubed with anti-Israel graffiti

Officers are looking for anyone with information after the atack on the memorial in Lewisham High Street
Officers are looking for anyone with information after the atack on the memorial in Lewisham High Street - UNPIXS

Police have launched an investigation after anti-Israeli graffiti was daubed on a war memorial in south London.

The slogan “Israel is a terrorist state” was painted on the monument in Lewisham High Street on the evening of Remembrance Sunday, just hours after wreaths were laid at the site to honour those killed in war.

The vandalism was discovered the following morning, and police believed it took place sometime between midday on Sunday, Nov 12 and 9am on Monday.

The paint has been removed by the local authority, but the Metropolitan Police has launched an appeal to find those responsible.

The incident is thought to have taken place the day after hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestinian supporters took part in a huge march across London and far-Right supporters clashed with police in Whitehall.

Pc Andrew Dobson, who is investigating the incident, said: “Criminal damage and offensive comments of this nature are completely unacceptable and our team are doing all we can to identify those responsible.

“We know that incidents like this cause significant concern in our communities and we will be relentless in targeting those who commit such offences.

“We are asking anyone in the area on Sunday evening or overnight to think back as to whether they saw anything that could help us with our enquiries.”

Earlier this month, two teenagers were charged following an attack on the Cenotaph in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in which the words “Free Gaza” were daubed on the monument.

Rochdale cenotaph
The words were sprayed in red paint on the memorial in Rochdale, Greater Manchester - Richard Tice

One 17 year-old was charged with racially aggravated criminal damage and the other was charged with racially aggravated criminal damage and theft.

There have also been calls for new laws to protect war memorials after it emerged that the police cannot stop people climbing on them during protests.

Last week Sir Mark Rowley, the Met Commissioner, defended his officers for not arresting pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had climbed on the Royal Artillery monument near Hyde Park, insisting they could not “make up a law that it is illegal to do something”.

‘Affront to our Armed Forces’

Rishi Sunak has called attacks on war memorials “an affront to our Armed Forces” and has said the government will look at whether further laws are needed.

His official spokesman said: “It’s an affront to our Armed Forces, it goes against our British values, it’s not acceptable.

“We will look at what further measures are needed so that the police can have confidence in taking action on this.

“We do believe there are extensive powers available to them but the public will have been shocked and I’m sure appalled by what they saw.”

A man is due to appear in court next month to be sentenced after he admitted throwing red paint at the Israeli embassy on Armistice Day.

John Harvey, 75 was arrested at the scene by officers from the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command who were on patrol in the area.

Harvey was charged with criminal damage, which he pleaded guilty to on Monday, Nov 13 at Westminster magistrates’ court.

He was released on court bail to appear for sentencing at the same court on Thursday, Dec 14.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.