London billboard featuring Israeli hostages taken down after threats

The Embassy of Israel in London is seeking legal counsel regarding the matter.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

A billboard campaign featuring pictures of hostages taken from Israel on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists was meant to be displayed on video screens throughout London but has been shut down after organizers received a torrent of threats and complaints.

The project was spearheaded by an organization called the Hostages Families’ Forum UK, with help from the Embassy of Israel in London, and was expected to run for two weeks, according to Elad Simchayoff, the European correspondent for Channel 12 News who documented the entire incident on X/Twitter.

He said many media companies initially refused to screen the photos but eventually an advertising company was chosen and an agreement was signed to have the billboards displayed around London. The Embassy of Israel in London told The Algemeiner that the company is called London Lites.

The billboards went live on Dec. 5 but were taken down six days later, Simchayoff told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. Campaign organizers received a notice from London Lites saying that due to “an unusual volume of complaints from the public” the campaign was terminated with immediate effect.

Simchayoff said the advertising company received thousands of complaints, including personal threats to its staff, about the billboards. Business owners in the area of the video screens were also threatened and organizers of the campaign received an “unprecedented amount” of threats and complaints, he added.

“While we are strong advocates of freedom of speech and endeavor to minimize censorship, we acknowledge the remarkable level of reaction these posters have elicited,” the notice further said. “Our primary objective is not to provoke or distress our audience, and thus, we deemed the removal of the posters appropriate. We trust you appreciate that this decision as highly challenging, and we value your understanding and support. We sincerely apologize for this disruption.”

The Embassy of Israel in London is seeking legal counsel regarding the matter. A spokesperson told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that the embassy is disappointed in London Lites for shutting down the billboards after facing pressure to do so.

“We regret that the ‘London Lites’ company caved to the threats of an extreme minority in the UK, which forcefully tries to limit freedom of expression,” said the spokesperson. “The Embassy is considering further steps against the company [and] will continue to raise awareness for the 137 Israeli hostages that remain as hostages by Hamas in Gaza.”

“There should be nothing controversial about raising awareness for innocent civilians being held hostage by a terror organization,” the spokesperson added. “This is a humanitarian cause. This breach of contract plays into the hands of terrorists by actively ignoring the war crimes of Hamas and also by succumbing to intimidation and threats in London.”