Images have been released of three men police wish to speak to in connection with a “bigoted antisemitic attack” on a Hanukkah party bus.
Scotland Yard said that it was trying to track the trio in relation to the incident on London’s Oxford Street on Monday evening.
Around 40 young Jewish people were on the bus when a group of men swore, made obscene gestures and threw a shopping basket at them.
Shneor Glitsenstein, director of the Chabad Israeli Centre Golders Green, who was on the bus with the young people, said earlier they had been attacked “for being Jewish”.
He said: “Let me be clear: on Monday evening we were attacked on the streets of London for being Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah.
“While our bus contained no references to Israel, we were clearly a Jewish group.
“The young men who surrounded us were not engaged in political protest; this was a bigoted antisemitic attack in the heart of London, seen by dozens of others, who stood by silently.”
On Thursday evening, the Metropolitan Police released images of three men who have been linked to the incident, which is being treated as a hate crime.
Detective Inspector Kevin Eade of the Met’s Central West Command said: “This was a deeply upsetting incident for a community group who were celebrating the Jewish festival, Hanukkah.
“There is no place in our city for hate crime.
“Everyone should be able to enjoy their lives without harassment and I urge anyone who can name the individuals pictured to contact police without delay.”
The Metropolitan Police are also trying to identify a woman aged 25-30 with dark skin and long black hair who was present shortly before the incident occurred.
A woman who was on the open-top bus and filmed the incident said the passengers had stopped at Oxford Street to get off and dance when the men started abusing them.
Joanne Orezi, from Golders Green, told the PA news agency: “They were just starting to swear, pointing fingers, taking off their shoes and spitting, kind of vandalising the bus as well.
“They ripped off a window of the bus.
“It was right outside a shop, so they took a shopping basket, they threw it on to somebody in the bus.
“Obviously the roof was open so it hit somebody.”
Ms Orezi said the attack lasted around 30 minutes, but she only started filming halfway through as she was “a bit in shock”.
When the bus started driving off, one of the men ran alongside it and banged his shoe against it.
Ms Orezi, 31, said: “My legs was shaking with anger, truthfully, because we weren’t disturbing anyone, just literally dancing.
“And you know, I’m not as young as the other people.
“I mean, they were all teenagers, they were more scared.
“Some of them were angry.
“Some of them were in shock, scared, shaking.
“The younger ones, they weren’t even talking, they just went to the top of the bus.”
Rabbi Glitsenstein said the men approached the group while they were dancing on the famous London street.
He said: “They quickly became aggressive, and began making profane gestures and yelling ‘Free Palestine!’”
The bus was on a city tour from north-west London to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
The tour was organised by the religious organisation Chabad, which arranges public menorah (candelabra) lightings and gives out food to mark Hanukkah.
This year’s festival runs from November 28 to December 6.
Officers were called to Oxford Street at around 8pm on Monday.
They met the bus at a different location to speak with the passengers about the incident and to check on their welfare.
The Met said there were no reports of any injuries.
London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “Antisemitism has no place whatsoever in society and I utterly condemn these disgusting acts. No-one should have to experience this.”
Dave Rich, director of policy at the Community Security Trust which monitors antisemitic incidents, said there has been an increase in antisemitic hate crimes in the UK.
“In the first six months of this year, we had the highest number of antisemitic incidents ever reported to CST in the first six months of any year,” he said.
Police urged anyone who recognises the men in the video, or who has any other information, to call 101 with the reference 6184/29NOV.
Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.