Don’t hide - fight, Jerusalem mayor urges Britons
"We train our public to engage [the terrorists]. Even if you are risking your life, engage - because you are saving others. "Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem
ISRAEL: The leader of one of the world’s most conflict-riven cities has questioned official UK police advice to ‘‘run, hide, tell’’ during terror attacks and has suggested Britons should take on jihadists to save lives.
Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, said people should ‘‘engage’’ the enemy directly. He also claimed that London was more dangerous than his own city after four attacks in the capital in less than six months, including Friday’s bombing at Parsons Green.
‘‘When I fly here, I pray to safely come back home to Jerusalem.’’
The Israeli politician indicated that Europe had been ‘‘soft’’ with extremist plotters and said UK police should be routinely armed and willing to carry out more profiling of suspects.
‘‘The phase that Europe’s going through now, we went through 15-20 years ago,’’ said Barkat during a trip to London last week.
‘‘We went through this phase of naiveness [sic] and wishing that things will pass. Well, they don’t.
‘‘If you don’t take action and rethink how to engage with it in a smart way, it’s going to continue.’’
Senior figures in British intelligence and anti-terrorist policing have warned that the threat from Isis and other Islamist groups will last for ‘‘at least’’ a generation.
Tipped by some as a future prime minister, Barkat believes people sometimes need to stand their ground until police arrive.
‘‘We train our public to engage [the terrorists],’’ said the mayor. ‘‘Even if you are risking your life, engage - because you are saving others.
‘‘Sometimes you see Jerusalemites with a guitar, with a stick, with a broom ... engage, engage, engage.’’
Barkat said about a third of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem were foiled by the public rather than police.
In 2015 the mayor made headlines himself when he subdued a Palestinian man trying to stab a Jewish victim.
Barkat conceded that Israelis might have more ‘‘self-confidence’’ about taking on an attacker because most will have completed a period of compulsory military service.
But his advice to Britain is not without precedent. During the London Bridge attack in June, Ignacio Echeverria, a Spanish banker, helped to save a woman after trying to fight off the terrorists with a skateboard.
Echeverria, 39, who was eventually overwhelmed and fatally stabbed, was posthumously awarded one of Spain’s highest honours.
‘‘He probably saved many lives because you slow down the terrorists,’’ said Barkat.
In America, the FBI advises the public to ‘‘run, hide, fight’’ encouraging people to confront an attacker and ‘‘act with aggression’’ if lives are at imminent risk.
Controversially, Barkat advocated profiling - which might disproportionately affect Muslims - to catch terrorists early.
- Sunday Times