A car is believed to have been driven across a park and into a memorial for Jewish refugees.

The memorial plaque and tree in Preston Park, Brighton, was vandalised overnight on November 4 going into November 5.

The oak tree was planted in February last year to honour Jewish refugees who fled Austria at the start of the Second World War to find refuge in the UK.

Sussex Police said they recognise the potential for “increased tensions” amid the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza.

A spokesman for the force said: “It is believed a vehicle drove across the park towards the tree, which is located at the eastern side on the park, and deliberately caused damage to the tree and the memorial plaque from the Association of Jewish Refugees.

“Sussex Police is aware that the ongoing conflict in Israel and in Gaza is generating public concern and is impacting communities globally and locally, and we extend our support to those affected in Sussex.

“The force has increased visibility across parts of Sussex to provide an increased presence and reassurance to our local communities.


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“We recognise there is the potential for increased tensions and are engaging and working with communities and partners to ensure people feel safe and protected.

“Anyone who experiences threatening behaviour or is worried about their safety is urged to contact the police.

“We remain committed to ensuring any reported offences are fully investigated in line with relevant legislation and take all factors into account.

“Witnesses or anyone with information about this incident, including those with details or footage of vehicles in the area at the time, is asked to report it to Sussex Police online or call 101 and quote serial 714 of 14/11.”

The vandalism comes amid heightened concerns over possible antisemitic crimes in the UK following the attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 and the subsequent military retaliation.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is designated as a terrorist group by the UK, the United States, and the European Union.

Two Jewish schools in London had red paint thrown on them in what was described as a “disgraceful attempt to intimidate and harass our community”.

In February this year, a swastika was daubed on the Martello tower in Seaford which had a Ukraine flag on its mast following Russia’s invasion a year earlier.

The swastika and the words "Nazi loving scum" were painted on the front.

The Sussex Jewish Representative Council said swastikas were an "aggressive symbol" which remind the Jewish community of the "darkest days of history".

Lewes District Council condemned the “deeply offensive” graffiti and Seaford Town Council said it did "not know why someone would do this” to the Grade II* listed building.