Removal of Israeli flag from Sheffield Town Hall being treated as a hate crime, South Yorkshire Police confirm
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An incident in which the Israeli flag was removed from Sheffield Town Hall at the culmination of a pro-Palestinian protest is being treated as a hate crime, police have confirmed, as they ask for the public's help to trace the men pictured.
The council flew the Israeli flag in solidarity with those affected by the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, during which 1,400 people were killed, an estimated 2,220 rockets were fired towards southern and central Israel and more than 240 people were taken hostage. Hamas is a Palestinian group, which has ruled the Gaza strip since 2007.
Following the events of October 7, Israel has carried out retaliatory strikes on Gaza as it attempts to destroy Hamas' military and governing capabilities, with the death toll currently standing at more than 9,000 people.
The Sheffield Town Hall incident on October 10, 2023 hit the headlines, as a viral video showed someone scaling the 200ft Town Hall and replacing the Israeli flag with a Palestine flag as protesters cheered from below.
Sheffield Council was criticised for the decision to fly the Israeli flag, and while the local authority has said it will now review its flag-flying policy it has refused to apologise.
South Yorkshire Police (SYP) spokesperson has now released an appeal, relating to the incident, in which they have confirmed the removal of the Israeli flag is being treated as a hate crime, with officers investigating the incident as a 'racially aggravated public order offence contrary to the Public Order Act'. Speaking today, (Monday, November 6, 2023) a SYP spokesperson said the force has released these CCTV images of two men detectives would like to speak to in connection with the incident.
They continued: "It is reported that during a protest outside Sheffield Town Hall on the evening of Tuesday 10 October, two men climbed onto the roof of the building and removed the flag that was being flown."
"Since the incident officers have carried out a range of different lines of enquiry.
"We are now asking for the public’s help to identify the two people in the images as we believe they could assist with our enquiries. "Do you recognise them?"
Anyone who can help is asked to please pass information to police via their online live chat, our online portal or by calling 101. You can access their online portal here. Please quote incident number 501 of October 10, 2023 when you get in touch.
Alternatively, if you prefer not to give your personal details, you can stay anonymous and pass on what you know by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers.
Call their UK Contact Centre on freephone 0800 555 111 or complete a simple and secure anonymous online form.