Several young Jewish men armed themselves with furniture, a mop, and scraps of wood as a group of drunken revelers attempted to smash their way through the front doors of a London synagogue early Sunday morning. The tense confrontation was captured on video, which shows the synagogue members shouting angrily at several men and women who appear visibly intoxicated.
British authorities reportedly arrested six men after the attack, which occurred at around 1:15am in London after a group left a house party and attempted to enter the synagogue.
Police said one man at the synagogue was hospitalized after he suffered a facial injury as he attempted to stop the people from entering the building. His injuries were not thought to be serious. Police said some of the suspects eventually managed to make it inside, but the synagogue's security team quickly apprehended them.
The incident was being investigated as a hate crime due to verbal threats the suspects made as they entered, according to police.
A police spokeswoman confirmed to VICE News that investigators were still looking into the case, and more arrests could be made pending results of their investigation.
Video apparently filmed from inside synagogue shows several young men in yarmulkes wielding makeshift weapons as the attackers pound the doors, hurl objects, and break two small glass windows. Insults are hurled from both sides, and it's unclear if anyone was trying to diffuse the situation as it unfolded.
At one point, a young woman grabs her friend and orders her to "Get outside now," before telling the men in the synagogue, "I am so sorry about that."
While police have not confirmed the name of the synagogue, the incident reportedly occurred at the Yeshivas Ahavas Torah synagogue in the Stamford Hill area of London. A call to the synagogue was not answered Sunday.
Police Inspector Jonathan Waterfield said there would be increased police patrols in Stamford Hill to reassure the area's large Jewish population.
"We are investigating to establish the full circumstances of the incident and to identify anyone else involved in the disturbance who has not yet been arrested," Waterfield said in a statement.
Rabbi Maurice Davis of the Ahavas Torah synagogue told the BBC he did not think the attack was simply religiously motivated.
"I think this incident was more anti-social than anti-Semitic," Davis told the BBC.
Anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have been on the rise, according to the new UK-based Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. The grassroots organization said there were a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country last summer.
"This attack underlines the importance of thorough protection of synagogues and Jewish sites in Britain. We commend the police for reacting quickly and arresting suspects in relation to this attack," a spokesman for the campaign said in a statement. "A violent attack on a synagogue and Jewish people is not a drunken prank; it is a symptom of a societal problem. It must be taken seriously and treated with zero tolerance under the law."
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