Adam Ma’anit has already lost one of his cousins, 18-year-old Maayan, who was murdered in front of her family by a Hamas gunman on October 7.
He shared a photo of what appears to be Metropolitan Police officers tearing down posters off the pharmacy’s front door on Saturday night.
A Met police spokesperson replied to his post, saying: “Thanks for alerting us to this. We are speaking to local officers and will post again with further details as soon as we have them.”
— Adam Ma’anit (@adammaanit) October 30, 2023
He told The Independent: “My cousin is on one of the posters but obviously every time I see people tearing down these posters, I feel a wave of despair take hold. There is no hate on the posters.
“They are just being used to highlight the plight of the hostages as the news cycle has long moved past the atrocities of October 7. We want to remind people that children, elderly, disabled, even babies are being held hostage by Hamas.
“Those who tear the posters down, are silencing one of the only ways we’ve been able to keep their plight fresh in the minds of people.
“They are silencing our suffering and pain. For the police to be party to that is deeply distressing.”
He added: “Even if there was a legitimate reason to take them down, it’s not the job of the police to do that. That’s either the responsibility of the shop owner or the Council.
“Police don’t personally clean up graffiti and concert posters when those are put up on private property. Why should they be doing that for this?”
Explaining the importance of the “grassroots” missing poster campaign to the families of victims, he said: “They put a face to the plight of each of the hostages.
“They make those of us who have family members hostage feel like people care.”
His cousin Tsachi Idan is still being held by Hamas after he was driven away to Gaza, with his hands still covered in his daughter Maayan’s blood.
Mr Ma’anit said: “While the news cycle has moved on from that atrocity, many of us are still reeling from that nightmare and innocent civilians are still being held by the terrorists who carried the atrocity out.
“We don’t know what condition he is in. We don’t even have proof of life.”
The posters are believed to have been put up on the pharmacy shutters in retaliation for an X account linked to the community medical centre reposting a tweet calling on “Allah to destroy the Jews”.
Hassan Khan, owner of Cullimore Chemists in Edgware, told The Independent he had hired a barrister to find out how the anti-Semitic tweet was sent from an account linked to his name.
He denied sending the tweet himself and said the business’ social media was outsourced.
“I’m not upset by the posters of hostages. Their lives should be shown. But I have a multi-cultural team so, at the same time, if there were pictures of Palestinians as well that should be fine.
He invited people to come into the shop to discuss their concerns this week to reassure them.
“My business grew massively with the help of the Jewish community, we come in every day to look after people’s health not to incite racial hatred.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the force recognised why people were concerned about the image of officers taking down the posters.
He said: “The removal of these posters elsewhere in London has caused anger and upset in recent weeks. We know a photo of our officers doing the same will cause further concern, particularly for anyone not aware of the full facts reported to us at the time.
“We have no wish to limit the rights of anyone to protest or to raise awareness of the plight of those kidnapped and the terrible impact on their families.
“But we do have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to stop issues escalating and to avoid any further increase in community tension. On this occasion, that is what officers were trying to do.
“We’re in contact with local partners, community representatives and those directly involved in this incident. Officers are listening to and reflecting on any concerns raised with us.
“We are also assessing the content of the comments made on social media to identify any potential offences.”
It came days after the family of a headteacher held by Hamas also spoke of their sadness at seeing posters of kidnapped Israelis being ripped down across London.
Ada Sagi, a 75-year-old mother and grandmother, has not had contact with her family since she was believed to have been taken hostage from her home in a dawn ambush on Kibbutz Nir Oz on 7 October.
Her daughter-in-law Michel Sagi, who knows the organisers of the missing poster campaign, said her worst fears were realised when she saw the flyers being ripped down or defaced in a flurry of videos.