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Hertsmere Together’ – Communities unite in response to the Hamas terror attacks and resulting war

Faith and community leaders joined representatives from Hertsmere Borough Council and Hertfordshire Constabulary on Monday (16 October) to underline messages of reassurance and to foster ongoing co-operation following the appalling terror attacks by Hamas in Israel and the resulting conflict in the region. 

The meeting was convened by the Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council and Chair of Hertsmere Together, Cllr Jeremy Newmark who was joined on a panel by Hertsmere’s Chief Inspector Mark Bilsdon representing the Constabulary and Neil Rosen from the Community Security Trust.  

A variety of faith group representatives, including the Hertsmere Forum of Faiths and community leaders from across the borough joined the delegates, along with cabinet and senior staff members from the council including the Managing Director, Sajida Bijle.   

Cllr Newmark commented: “Hertsmere is home to one of the UK’s largest Jewish communities and I know they, in particular, are feeling intense pain and vulnerability in the wake of the dreadful atrocities committed in Israel, as are other faith and non-faith groups and individuals across our borough.

“We are sensitive to these concerns and mindful of the need to cultivate and foster positive relations, bring people together and comfort those feeling fear and pain.  Through our Local Strategic Partnership, Hertsmere Together, we already have well-established networks to enable us to respond and communicate effectively, supportively and pragmatically. 

“At our meeting, as well as sharing information, listening to concerns and answering questions, we also agreed a pathway for ongoing communication and engagement amongst us.”

Chief Inspector Bilsdon updated delegates with the Constabulary’s response to the atrocities, including reassurance patrols in the wake of a threefold increase in antisemitic incidents, whilst Neil Rosen from the Community Security Trust (CST) gave an overview of the advice and practical support the CST has been offering to Jewish and multi-faith groups. 

In response to a request from those present, Hertsmere Borough Council will be working with partners to explore bolstering mental health-related provision for any members of the local community impacted by current events.

Faith and community leaders issued the following joint statement following the meeting:

“We are grateful to Hertsmere Borough Council for convening this meeting and providing an invaluable opportunity for us all to gather, listen, exchange views and build a constructive plan to engender continued dialogue and support to each other and our communities.

 “At the meeting we were united in our condemnation of the terrorist attacks launched on Israel by Hamas, a terrorist organisation, which has caused numerous casualties.   These events have, of course, created fear among Jewish communities across the world, including here in Hertsmere. 

“We thank councillors of all political groups for supporting Israel’s right to self-defence and their rejections of any suggestions of any moral equivalence. 

 “We were also united in our support for those innocent Palestinians trapped in Gaza and for the wider Muslim community, which is integral to our diverse population in Hertsmere.  

“We are united against all forms of terror and hate and uphold the human rights of all. Collectively, we will support all faiths and communities to build a safe and resilient Hertsmere.”

Hertsmere councillors are also supporting a ‘Yes to Peace and No to Terror’ solidarity event and vigil outside the Civic Offices this evening (Wednesday 18 October) where local MPs and community leaders from across Hertfordshire will make public addresses. 

Council chamber meeting delegates