Heathrow security accused of 'harassing Jewish passengers' by wearing Palestine badges

A plane lands at Heathrow Airport (PA Archive)
A plane lands at Heathrow Airport (PA Archive)

Security staff at Heathrow Airport have been accused of harassing Jewish and Israeli passengers by wearing badges with the Palestinian flag ahead of a flight to Israel.

Five security staff at Heathrow Terminal 4’s Fast Track lane were allegedly wearing the badges while scanning luggage for passengers on their way to catch a flight to Tel Aviv with Israeli airline El Al on Sunday.

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) has accused the staff of trying to create “an intimidating and hostile and offensive environment” for passengers and has demanded to know how the group were allowed to wear the “highly offensive” items.

Passengers complained they felt intimidated by the pro-Palestinian badges on security staff’s lanyards, UKLFI said.

Staff were wearing badges with the Palestinian flag and two were also wearing watermelon badges, which are viewed as symbols of solidarity with Palestine.

The security guards were reportedly replaced and had their badges confiscated following passenger complaints.

UKLFI has written to Heathrow’s services director, claiming staff were in breach of the airport’s uniform policy, adding the security staff had breached the Equality Act 2010.

The incident comes after passengers on another El Al flight were taken to one side at customs at Heathrow, while going through the Nothing to Declare channel, and made to have their luggage scanned.

UKLFI has claimed the travellers “were made to feel as if they were being called out as Jews.”

A spokesperson from UKLFI said:  “It is obvious that if staff wear these badges it would make most Jewish, Israeli and Israel supporting passengers feel uncomfortable and unsafe, particularly in the area of security checking at Heathrow.

“We would like to know why so many security officers were allowed to wear highly offensive, divisive and political badges attached to their Heathrow uniform, when it was a breach of Heathrow’s uniform policy.  We have asked Heathrow to investigate.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Everyone should feel safe and welcome at Heathrow. We have guidance on what colleagues can wear at work, if that guidance is not followed, we will ensure those items are removed immediately, as was the case in this instance.”