Palestine flag "ripped down" from Tower Hamlets office, not removed by officials"
Palestine flag "ripped down from Tower Hamlets office", say officials Getty

A flag of Palestine hoisted by a London council at its office is at the centre of a mystery after it was allegedly torn down overnight and has since disappeared.

Tower Hamlets triggered complaints on Wednesday when it ran the flag up the town hall flagpole as a gesture of solidarity with Gaza during its current conflict with Israel.

Critics blasted the borough's mayor Luftar Rahman for allegedly inciting anti-Semitism in the local community with the show of support.

However, by Thursday morning the flag had mysteriously disappeared leaving the council blaming vandals.

A Tower Hamlets spokesman said: "Today council facilities staff found the flag had been ripped from the flagpole in an act of perceived vandalism."

Confusion then ensued when the Metropolitan Police contradicted the council by saying the flag had been taken down by someone at the local authority.

"Upon police arrival the flag had already been taken down by the council," said a police spokeman.

Tower Hamlets said the flag could yet reappear some time in the future at the Town Hall in Mulberry Place.

Jewish monitoring group YadBYadUK had earlier reported the council to the police after the council had first displayed the flag.

Co-founder Ambrosine Shitrit told IBTimes UK that Jewish people have been living in fear in Tower Hamlets since the Gaza conflict had flared up earlier this month. Raising the Palesinian flag had only exacerbated the situation.

"Tower Hamlets is becoming an apartheid council by doing this. We believe everyone in the borough has the right to walk the streets in safety knowing the council is doing its job," she said.

"It is not the council's job to get involved in Middle East politics -- which is way beyond their remit. Nowhere in the rules governing councils flying flags does it include the Gaza flag."

Defending his decision to fly the flag, controversial mayor Rahman said: "Some have suggested that raising the Palestinian flag is to take sides. However my decision was in solidarity with civilian Palestinian victims."

But the controversy may go on, with the prospect of the flag reappearing soon.

A spokesman told IBTimes UK: "We are considering it at the moment."