“Today’s attack, which targeted the very heart of our democracy in Westminster, will serve only to unite us against the scourge of violence and terrorism,’’ declared Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis in a reaction to the terrorist attack Wednesday afternoon in London close to the British Parliament in London in which four people, including the presumed attacker, were killed and several others wounded.
“The prayers of the Jewish community are with the families of the victims and with our security services, who so often selflessly place themselves in harm’s way for our protection,” he said.
At around 2:40 p.m. local time, a dark gray car drove across Westminster Bridge towards the Palace of Westminster, hitting a number of pedestrians before crashing into railings on the side of parliament.
Shortly afterward a man armed with a knife continued the attack by charging at the police manning the gates of parliament. He stabbed one officer and was shot dead by police. The officer was killed in the attack.
A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “The thoughts and prayers of everyone here go out to the victims, families and everyone caught up in today’s attack at Westminster.”
The Community Security Trust (CST) has advised the Jewish community to remain “calm and vigilant” following the terror attack. A spokesman said CST, a group which is responsible for the security of the British Jewish community, had been in close contact with the Metropolitan Police.
“We ask the Jewish community to be calm, vigilant and to co-operate with security measures,” the spokesman said.
Shomrim, the volunteer security group, said police were advising community members to “remain extra vigilant” following the attack.
Additional police patrols were visible in Stamford Hill and other areas with large Jewish populations, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder called the attack “a callous and calculated strike against democracy and liberty, which won’t succeed.”
“It seems beyond coincidence that this attack was carried out on the first anniversary of the two terror attacks in Brussels, in which so many people were murdered.
“Terrorists around Europe and the world are trying to challenge our democracy and liberty. They will not succeed,’’ Lauder said.
“We strongly condemn this cowardly and barbaric terror attack,” said Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress. “This strike, at the heart of democracy, on the anniversary of the Brussels attacks which claimed the lives of 32 people, once again demonstrates that radical extremists continue to have the ability and motivation to commit mass murder in Europe.”
“This murderous ideology targets all of Europeans and all of Europe must stand together to fight this scourge,” he added. “We need greater intelligence sharing among European law enforcement and intelligence agencies and stronger policing laws to act against those in Europe, and across the world, who provide the means, motivation and ideology to enable these attacks.”
In Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said her country ‘’expresses its deep shock at the terror attack in London today and its solidarity with the victims and with the people and government of Great Britain. Terror is terror wherever it occurs and we will fight it relentlessly.”
In Tel Aviv, the city hall was lit up in the colours of the British flag in tribute.