Two women have been charged with terrorism offences after pictures circulated online showing them wearing images of paragliders in an apparent show of solidarity for terror group Hamas just days after the October 7 attacks on Israel.
Heba Alhayek, 29, and Pauline Ankunda, 26, both of south London, were charged yesterday with the offence of ‘carrying or displaying’ the image ‘in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that she is a supporter of a proscribed organisation, namely Hamas, contrary to section 13(1) Terrorism Act 2000.’
Police are continuing to appeal for help to identify a third woman seen carrying a similar image on a stick, as well as a man pictured holding a sign reading: ‘I fully support Hamas’.
The images, taken at a protest in Whitehall, London on October 14, caused outrage after Hamas paragliders flew into Israel a week previously and gunned down at least 250 revellers at a music festival in the desert as they did so.
At least 1,400 people were killed by the group, most of them civilians, with whole families killed in their beds and a further 230 people taken hostage and returned to Gaza.
Heba Alhayek, 29, and Pauline Ankunda, 26, both of south London, were charged with terror offences yesterday after this image circulated on social media
The images, taken at a protest in Whitehall, London on October 14, caused outrage
Police are continuing to appeal for help to identify a third woman seen carrying a paragrlider image on a stick
Hamas gunmen used paragliders to cross into Israeli territory on October 7 (Pictured: Hamas gunmen train ahead of the assault)
In response, Israel has launched a savage bombing campaign and devastating siege of Gaza, initially preventing any food, water, electricity or aid from reaching the 2.3 million civilians trapped in the narrow strip of land.
The country has also been condemned for its strikes on civilian areas, most recently hitting an ambulance convoy outside Gaza’s largest hospital on Saturday, killing a reported 15 people and injuring 60 others.
Israeli defence forces say the ambulance was being used by Hamas terrorists – a claim Palestinian health authorities deny.
Protests have taken place in London each Saturday since the outbreak of the conflict, but isolated incidents such as the paraglider imagery have marred what have otherwise been largely peaceful events.
On Friday 27 October, officers issued an image appeal to identify three women sought by detectives as part of an investigation linked to a pro-Palestine protest on 14 October.
Two women were arrested on Monday, 30 October. They were both released on bail until Friday 3 November, and subsequently charged upon their return to a police station.
Both women have been released on bail and are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 10 November.
Officers are continuing to seek the public’s help to identify the third woman in the images, described as black, wearing a red coat and with a dark scarf containing a flower pattern and baggy jeans.
As part of a separate ongoing investigation, officers are also still asking for the public’s help to identify a man seen waving a placard with the words ‘I fully support Hamas’
The placard was seen on Bond Street on Saturday, 21 October
Israeli soldiers and journalists gather around a damaged powered paraglider allegedly used by Palestinian militants in Kfar Aza, south of Israel
Hamas fighters have been shown rehearsing deadly paraglider attack, which including killing at least 250 people at a music festival
As part of a separate ongoing investigation, officers are also still asking for the public’s help to identify a man seen waving a placard with the words ‘I fully support Hamas’ on it during a protest on Bond Street on Saturday, 21 October.
He has short hair, light skin and is wearing a blue jacket with a light top underneath, a light stripy scarf around his neck, and light trousers or jeans.
Commander Dominic Murphy said: ‘My officers are working night and day with our colleagues across the country to investigate suspected terrorism offences committed in the real world and online.
‘The public’s support is vital to us and I’m grateful to everyone who has reported information to us already and I urge anyone who has information about the man and woman we are still seeking to get in touch.
‘Equally, should the people in the pictures recognise themselves, then I also urge them to come forward so we can speak with them.’
Since October 7, the Metropolitan Police alone has made 133 arrests for incidents of hate crimes and racially aggravated offences.
Of these arrests, 26 people have so far been charged, 14 for alleged incidents of anti-Semitism, six for alleged incidents of islamophobia, and the others for ‘faith hate, criminal damage and other matters.’
Commander Karen Findlay added: ‘My message to our officers is clear – we will be taking positive action at every opportunity when we are alerted to crimes, particularly those which are inflammatory and fuelled by hate.’
Anyone who knows who these people are or has information that could help the investigation is asked to please report it in confidence online at gov.uk/ACT or by calling 0800 789 321.