Thousands Sign Petitions Calling for Armed Guards at UK Jewish Gathering Places
Thousands in the UK had signed a petition by Friday calling for armed police guards outside Jewish institutions and gathering places in Great Britain.
The petition concluded that there is a serious risk of mass casualties due to terrorism facing Jewish sites across the UK. Governments in mainland European countries such as France, Belgium and others have already deployed armed guards to protect synagogues and community centers.
Given the current threats facing British Jews concerning terrorism, the British government should do the same, the petitioners, led by Moses Hoffman, argued.
“It is impossible for a policeman or security guard without a weapon to protect synagogues, schools and other institutions from terrorists who arm [sic] guns and knives,” said the petition, which had a June 2016 deadline to reach 10,000 signatures for a government response or 100,000 signatures for parliamentary consideration. It had reached 5,126 signatures as of publishing.
Most British police officers are unarmed. In Scotland, 98 percent of police officers carry no firearm, the New York Times reported on Friday.
The British petition was responding to security concerns among European Jews especially since the series of fatal terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions in France, Belgium and Denmark over the last year. After the ISIS attacks in Paris last month, the terrorist threat appears all the more imminent.
The petition also noted the use of knives, perhaps fearing copycat attacks similar to the wave of terrorism that Israel has been facing for several months. Israeli security forces have killed dozens of Palestinians carrying out terrorist attacks using knives over the last six weeks. Israel even relaxed the country’s tight gun possession laws to encourage civilians to carry firearms in case of random attacks.
France responded to the January terrorist siege at a kosher supermarket in Paris that left four civilians dead by dispatching military and police to protect 717 of the country’s Jewish gathering places. In addition to 10,000 troops, 4,700 police officers were deployed, according to the Jerusalem Post.