Minister reports pro-Palestinian group to police over incitement to violence

Palestine Action daubed red paint over the front of the London HQ of a bank it said had investments in an Israeli weapons firm
Palestine Action daubed red paint over the front of the London HQ of a bank it said had investments in an Israeli weapons firm - GUY SMALLMAN/GETTY
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The policing minister has warned police that a pro-Palestinian group is inciting activists to “smash up businesses with sledgehammers”.

Chris Philp said he was personally reporting Palestine Action to the authorities over a manual produced by the group which gives advice on “smashing windows and exterior equipment”, blocking companies’ pipes, and “breaking into your target and damaging the contents inside”.

Lord Walney, the Government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, said the handbook would become an important “test case” of the police’s willingness to take action against “pernicious militants”.

The “Underground Manual”, which also advises activists on how to form “cells” and avoid detection, is sitting on Palestine First’s website despite being exposed by The Telegraph five months ago, in the wake of the October 7 attacks on Israel.

Since then, the group has repeatedly targeted UK defence manufacturers which it claims have links to Israel. A member of the group was also videoed slashing and spray-painting a portrait of Lord Balfour, a former prime minister, at the University of Cambridge.

On Wednesday the group boasted of having daubed red paint over the front of the London headquarters of a bank it said had investments in an Israeli weapons firm, and smashed the glass entrance to the building. On Saturday it was due to hold a “direct action training day” in Birmingham.

The disclosures came as a Savanta poll for The Telegraph found that 53 per cent of people who voted for the Conservatives at the last general election believe that the police have been “too soft” on protestors found to be breaking the law. Only 14 per cent of those voters believed that the police had been too tough in such circumstances.

Addressing the Palestine Action manual, Mr Philp told The Telegraph: “This is clearly an incitement to commit criminal offences.

Palestine Action attcked a portrait of the former prime minister Lord Balfour
Palestine Action attcked a portrait of the former prime minister Lord Balfour - INSTAGRAM

“Palestine Action are no more than thugs who resort to violence instead of using reasoned arguments and the ballot box. Inciting people to commit criminal damage and smash up businesses with sledgehammers has no place in a democracy.

“Political violence like this sickens all decent people whatever their own views. I want to see anyone committing criminal damage arrested and  prosecuted. And I will be reporting this appalling Palestine Action material to the police myself.”

Lord Walney added: “Now this handbook has been formally reported to the police, it becomes an important test case. Surely the police will want to take proactive action to restrict the recruitment activity of these pernicious militants who are terrorising defence workers and destroying cultural assets in the name of Palestine.”

Alex Hearn, director of the Labour Against Antisemitism campaign group, said: “Palestine Action’s manual encourages criminal acts. Being obsessed with taking violent actions on property and culture in the name of opposition to Israel can only escalate into more violent acts. The police and courts need to clamp down on these hate groups.”

Palestine Action was co-founded by Richard Barnard, an Extinction Rebellion activist, and Huda Ammori, a former campaigns officer at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Last week, seven activists who took part in an earlier break-in at a defence technology firm in Bristol were given suspended sentences.

Palestine Action’s “Underground Manual” states: “Dream up crazy ideas in your cell, remember that your action is to disrupt, damage or destroy your target.”

It adds: “Fire extinguishers can be repurposed and refilled with blood-red paint, so when it’s sprayed it makes a big splash and can cover a massive area within seconds – perfect for a get away action. Spray painting can be quick as well, as long as you don’t try and spray an essay onto the walls of your target!”

The advice continues: “Smashing stuff can also be very quick to do. With an efficient sledgehammer in your hand, you can cause quite a bit of damage! Smashing windows often only takes one or two swings. But air conditioning units, cameras and other external equipment can sabotage the profits of your target even further.

“Smashing windows and exterior equipment if you’re feeling up for it, and know the site back to front, then breaking into your target and damaging the contents inside is obviously a very effective tactic.”

The handbook provides advice on how to “make your action as smooth and damaging as possible”, including by avoiding CCTV where possible, and estimating how long it might take for policy to arrive.

It states: “It may be impossible to avoid doing your action whilst avoiding CCTV, that’s why it is crucial to make sure you are unidentifiable as mentioned before.” Specific considerations include “Estimated time of arrival for police ... How far away is the local police station? ... Do they patrol area? During specific times? Unmarked police cars in the area? Foot patrols?”

The manual goes on: “Do you know what sets off the alarm? Whatever sets off the alarm should be done last.”

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “The primary job of the police is to tackle crime and keep the peace.

“Policing is not anti-protest, but there is a difference between protest and criminal activism, and we are committed to responding quickly and robustly to activists who deliberately disrupt people’s lives with reckless and criminal acts.”

Palestine Action was approached for comment.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.