Take all measures to protect public from Iran, urges Chief Rabbi

The Chief Rabbi has said “all measures should be taken” to protect the public from Iran – which he labelled the head of a “monstrous being” – as he attended a demonstration calling for the release of hostages in Gaza.

Sir Ephraim Mirvis addressed hundreds of people on Wednesday in Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street, where a Seder table surrounded by 133 empty chairs had been laid.

Each seat represented a remaining hostage and every chair – including two high chairs for children – had a poster attached bearing the face of a person still in captivity.

Image of Shlomo Mantzur hostage hanging from a chair
An image of Shlomo Mantzur hanging from a chair (Lucy North/PA)

“And we ourselves will never tire, we will never remain silent until every single one of the hostages will be back home safely.”

Asked if he supported calls for the Government to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation in the UK, he told PA: “What happened last Saturday night focuses our attention all the more on the extent to which Hamas is just one tentacle of a monstrous being, the head of which is Iran, and all of our civilisation is being threatened right now.

“And therefore, all measures should be taken in order to ensure the safety of all of our populations.”

A parliamentary researcher to former immigration minister Robert Jenrick supported calls for the IRGC to be banned in the UK.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Campaigners at Richmond Terrace in Westminster (Lucy North/PA)

Asked about calls for Israel to show restraint in its response to Iran, the 20-year-old said: “I think it’s sort of unfair to say that a country has to show restraint against that.

“I don’t think the United Kingdom would have done and I think we need to stand firm like Winston Churchill did during the Second World War, and we can’t be appeasers and we have to go strong against this and say that we won’t accept terror.”

The Empty Seder Table installation is a “poignant reminder of the individuals who remain separated from their families this Passover”, the UK Hostages & Missing Families Forum said.

The festival of Passover, which celebrates the freedom of Jewish people from slavery, begins at sundown on April 22.

The 44-year-old, who has lived in the UK for more than 20 years, said the family were informed after Mr Nisenbaum’s disappearance that he was likely to have been taken hostage as his car was found burnt on the road.

Describing his uncle as “more like a big brother to me”, Mr Shojat told PA: “Passover is the festival of freedom… but how can you celebrate freedom when there are 133 hostages?

“They don’t have freedom. How can we celebrate freedom?”

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