A SYNAGOGUE arson has left police concerned the Jewish communities in Harrow and Brent could fall victim to anti-semitism.

Brondesbury Park Synagogue, in Willesden, was set on fire on Sunday night in a “grotesque” attack which officers believe may have been a reaction to military action between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Police in both boroughs are now taking steps to protect residents, with increased patrols by safer neighbourhood teams.

Councillor David Ashton, leader of Harrow Council, condemned the arson, in which no-one was hurt.

He said: “I am deeply disturbed to learn of this attack on a synagogue in Brondesbury Park.

“Whether or not the current conflict in Gaza was the motive, Harrow has a long and proud record of tolerance.

“A misguided attempt to re-enact the tensions of the Middle East by choosing a soft target like a synagogue - if this was what this attack represented - is a grotesque manifestation of antisemitism.”

Borough commander for Brent Chief Superintendent Mark Toland said all his officers have been briefed about the conflict and the local safer neighbourhood team in contact with the synagogue.

He said: “We would encourage people to be vigilant and to contact us if they see anyone acting suspiciously. In an emergency please call 999.”

Borough commander for Harrow Chief Superintendent Richard Walton said his officers are working closely with the Community Security Trust (CST), a private security firm which works with police to protect Jewish interests in the UK.

He said: “There are regular patrols happening around the synagogues, and I would like to re-assure all the communities in Harrow, and ask them to exercise restraint following what has been happening in Gaza.”

But Azmat Ali, treasurer of Harrow Central Mosque, said he thought Jewish people and Muslims in Harrow had a good relationship.

He said: “We've been praying for the people who have been killed on both sides, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli.

“We are very concerned but I don't think there's a danger of anyone going out and attacking the Jewish brothers and sisters.”

Sonoo Malkani, chair of the Harrow Police and Community Consultative Group, said: “The people of Harrow are logical and sensible people, and during these difficult times I would hope and believe that they will keep it that way.

“There are some awful things that have been happening in Gaza, as well as the terrible attacks last month in Mumbai, and I would appeal to the people of Harrow to stay calm.”

The attack in Brondesbury Park was one of between 20 and 25 incidents reported by CST across London thought to be expressions of anti-semitism triggered by the conflict.

Other crimes range from racist graffiti to more serious offences.

Three Asian men were seen hanging around near the synagogue before the fire, at around midnight on Sunday night.

Anyone with information can contact police on 0208 733 3159, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.