Three people were attacked in Leicester Square, London, “for being Jewish” in the early hours of Sunday morning after they were overheard “speaking Hebrew”.
The three victims, all in their twenties, were enjoying a night out when they were attacked by a group of men.
A 28-year-old woman, Tehilla, told The Telegraph she was “physically attacked” and called the Metropolitan Police 10 times “afraid she was going to die” but that police did not attend.
She was out with two male friends, both 25, who it is understood suffered blows to the head.
The group were heading towards a nightclub when they were accosted for speaking in Hebrew but they “walked away because they wanted to stay out of trouble”.
They were later threatened around 2am by people “swearing in Arabic”.
“They heard us talking and said, ‘are you Jewish?’” Tehilla, who has lived in London since she was 13, told The Telegraph. “I said ‘yes, I’m Jewish,’ and then they started chanting ‘Free Palestine’, and f— Jews, all this kind of swearing at us.
“So we just tried not to get into trouble, to walk away, but they started following us and then all of a sudden, it started with like two or three guys, and all of a sudden, they called all their friends and 15 to 20 guys started attacking us physically.”
She said she had tried to intervene but “they started attacking me as well”.
‘They don’t really care’
“I hurt my leg, they punched me in the neck,” she said. “I tried to run away and I called the police so many times, at least 10 times and I kept crying to them, ‘I’m a girl, there’s a group of guys attacking me and my friends because I’m Jewish, please can you come, I’m scared I’m going to die’.
“They don’t really care. They kept saying ‘I’m sorry, it takes some time, you are not the only one that called tonight’,” she said, adding that she “never thought this would happen in London”.
It’s understood the police attended the scene 28 minutes after being called. They arrived at Tehilla’s house around 6pm on Sunday, some 16 hours after the first call, and are treating the incident as a hate crime.
The Community Security Trust, a charity to support and protect Jewish people in Britain, said it would be “raising” the handling of the incident with the police.
“This appalling incident was reported to CST’s 24/7 control centre last night and we are in contact with the victims,” a spokesman said. “We will be raising it with the police and will provide ongoing support to the victims.”
A friend of the victims who wished to remain anonymous said they visited them at the hospital in North London where they were for a few hours and that the police “never showed up” despite claiming they would.
“We believe there’s a two-tier police situation. The police are not tackling the weekly hate marches, they are not tackling antisemitism,” they told The Telegraph.
“The feeling for the Jewish community is that the leadership of the police, the government do not care about us,” they added. “The climate is very very distressing for the British Jewish community.’”
Det Supt Lucy O’Connor said: “We are investigating this incident as an anti-Semitic hate crime.
“I know how upsetting such inexcusable violence is for anyone who was injured or who witnessed the incident, and also for the wider community. I share their concerns.
“Officers arrived at the scene some 28 minutes after they were called. Of course, I wish we could have come to their aid sooner.
“The police investigation will now focus on speaking with the woman and any other victims or witnesses, as well as following up all lines of enquiry including analysis of CCTV. I urge any witnesses to get in touch.
“I can assure Londoners, tackling anti-Semitic crime is a priority for the Met. There is no place for hate in our city.”
A police spokesman said officers were called at 1.37am on Sunday, 21 to a woman assaulted in the area of Leicester Square and said the caller stated that she did not require an ambulance.
“Officers attended the location, arriving shortly after 2am, at which point all parties had left the scene. We understand that a woman subsequently attended hospital for treatment,” the spokesman said.
“The incident is being treated as a hate crime. Officers will speak with the victim to take a statement and identify any other victims and witnesses.”