Met defends Israeli police visit to Hackney
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014
The Metropolitan Police has faced criticism from Hackney Palestinian groups after Israeli police visited Stamford Hill.
A tweet on Monday, June 13 – which has since been deleted – from Hackney Police said: “Today we were delighted to welcome a delegation from Israeli Police to showcase the great work… The delegation went on patrol with @MPSStamfordHill to see the work being done in the community.”
The incident followed Israeli police appearing to beat mourners at the funeral of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The force’s investigation found misconduct but no disciplinary action was taken.
The Met said the visit was long planned to increase cross-cultural understanding.
A group of Hackney-based Palestinians wrote an open letter to Hackney mayor Philip Glanville.
The letter, shared on Twitter, read: “Palestinians are routinely shot, beaten, tortured, sprayed with skunk water and tear gas, and subjected to the most cruel and brutal treatment by Israeli police and military.
“It is telling that Hackney Police believe such an institution is worth collaborating with and that collaboration is something to advertise and be proud of.”
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A protest was held on Tuesday [June 21] outside Stoke Newington Police Station.
Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas, Hackney's community safety lead, said: “We were contacted a month ago by people who had concerns about this visit, and I sought assurances from the police about the timing and nature 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.
“In Hackney, we will continue to listen to concerns, hold the police to account."
The Met said the context of the pre-planned visit was not clear when the tweet was posted and was thus taken down.
A statement added: “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.
“During the visit to central east local officers discussed examples of good work, challenges and issues the local people care about, and how the Met works.
“As part of the visit we invited members from the community to come and explain their role in advising us and helping us work. The Israeli delegation also went on a local patrol in the community with Central East officers.”