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Anti-Jewish Arsonist Sets English Home Ablaze

Police have launched an investigation into a house fire in east London and are examining whether it was an antisemitic hate crime.

The Metropolitan police said a man in his 60s arrested near the scene of the fire made threatening and “allegedly antisemitic” comments when detained.

The force said it believed the fire was started deliberately.

Officers responded to reports of a fire at an address in Hackney, shortly before 12.45pm on Wednesday.

A man in his 60s who suffered minor injuries from the fire was arrested shortly afterwards on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, the Met said. He is being treated in hospital for his injuries.

Four other people were also injured in the incident but none are in a life-threatening condition. London fire brigade said eight fire engines and about 60 firefighters tackled the blaze, which destroyed the ground and first floors of the three-storey house.

DCS James Conway said: “On his arrest, the man made a number of threatening comments, some of which were allegedly antisemitic.

“We take instances of antisemitism extremely seriously and for this reason we’re investigating the incident as a potential hate crime.

“Undoubtedly this will be extremely concerning news for our Jewish communities in Hackney and beyond, and I and my officers will be engaging with partners including the Community Safety Trust and the Shomrim [neighbourhood watch group] to answer their questions and listen to their views.

“While the investigation will continue to explore the motivation for this offence, we believe at this stage that this was centred on a localised housing-related issue.

“We have no indication, at this very early stage, that the motivation was connected with any specific local or global events.”

Conway said the Met had a robust policing plan in place, including increased patrols and enhanced police visibility, as Jewish communities begin celebrations for the Purim holiday period.

A spokesperson for the Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism and provides security advice to the Jewish community, said: “This appears to be a very serious incident and we appreciate the police’s swift action.

“We have been in contact with police since yesterday and we will be working with them to provide reassurance to the local Jewish community over the coming days.”