A retired British Army Officer has slammed pro-Palestinian activists who climb atop war memorials.
Colonel Richard Kemp, who served with the Royal Anglian Regiment between 1977 and 2006, criticised the “vile behaviour” of people who “disrespect” the UK’s “sacred” sites.
In a piece for the Daily Express, Col Kemp condemned recent incidents in which activists participating in marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza have climbed atop some of London’s iconic commemorative statues.
Some have draped a Palestinian flag over the memorials, prompting outrage and calls for tighter laws protecting British memorials.
But Col Kemp has called for propositions to be taken a step further as he decried the “deliberate insult” to the UK’s war dead.
Writing in his comment piece, the Colonel claimed protesters placing flags on war memorials were deliberately insulting “British values represented by these statues”.
He said: “These are not just public works of art, they are sacred memorials to honour the best in our society, the men and women who fought and died to preserve our way of life.
“People who gave everything they had and everything they would ever have that others might live in safety and freedom.”
He added that soldiers fighting wars in which the UK participated fought the “same fascist ideology” represented by Hamas and called for the Government to address scattered incidents where pro-Palestinian protesters appeared to side with the militant group.
Recent marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza have seen hundreds of thousands of people peacefully advocate for measures that could protect innocent Palestinians.
But the protests have also seen incidents where attendees wore clothes appearing to emulate Hamas and called out for “jihad”, with other antisemitic chants also heard.
The Metropolitan Police were recently criticised for failing to stop an activist as they clambered atop the Royal Artillery Memorial despite warnings from a companion the act was “disrespectful”, and the service said in a statement the incident was “unfortunate” but not illegal.
Colonel Kemp said recent promises to bring in laws making it illegal to climb on statues have not been needed in the past, and their need is a “terrible indictment on the divisions in our society between those who respect British values and those who hold them in such utter contempt”.
He added: “Clambering over these memorials is only one of the symptoms of these divisions which have been amplified in the weeks following Hamas’s October 7 massacre of innocent Israelis.”
He said the signs of division are “deeply troubling” and would “require much more far-reaching measures than changing the law on war memorials”.