Tensions in the Middle East have threatened to spill over here after graffiti supporting Gaza was sprayed onto a synagogue.

Police were called after the words ‘Free Gaza’ were found sprayed in black onto the door of the Hove Hebrew Congregation in Hove.

Tensions are running high over the current flare-up of extreme violence in the long-running conflict between Israel and Palestinian territories. More than 1,800 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed since Israel started bombing Gaza in early July, officially in response to rocket fire.

The synagogue’s Rabbi Vivian Silverman said the graffiti was “upsetting” but it has now “all been removed and things are back to normal”.

Many Israel supporters described the message as “anti-Semitic” on social media, although Rabbi Silverman was more cautious. He said: “People’s feelings are very pent up especially when you see the pictures coming out of Gaza, so it does not necessarily mean anti-Semitism.

“But as you know anti – Israel things have a smacking of being anti-Semitic.”

A protest supporting Gaza was held in Brighton last Saturday. The Israeli government has said it wants to destroy tunnels allegedly used by fighters from the militant group Hamas.

Rabbi Silverman added: “We just hope that things will become calm now and once Israel has done what it has to do to make sure that people don’t come out of tunnels and murder people, once that’s been taken care of, things will become quiet again.”

A spokesman for the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity campaign said: “The real issue here is that there needs to be a political solution to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

“We would like the members of the Brighton Jewish community who do not agree with Israel’s policies to stand up – as 150 in Brooklyn did the other day, and many others have done - to show that there is not a divide between Jews and non-Jews.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said nobody was arrested, adding: “This is an isolated incident of damage - we are not aware of similar reports in the area.”