Note: The following piece was originally published in the Jewish Chronicle on 24 September 2015.
An Israeli-owned cosmetics store in London was targeted by pro-Palestinian activists in a protest timed to coincide with Yom Kippur.
Around 20 supporters of the London Palestine Action group entered the Sabon UK shop, in Covent Garden, on Tuesday evening, just as the fast began.
The manager of the store, which stocks luxury skincare products and fragrances which contain minerals from the Dead Sea, said the protestors arrived at around 6pm, put up anti-Israel leaflets and attempted to steal stock.
She said: “They came in and put signs up on the inside of our windows – inside the store. They brought out cardboard boxes and tried to put our stuff in the boxes and walk out with our products.
“They had around five cardboard boxes. Everything happened in a minute – I looked inside one of the boxes and could not believe that they had put 14 body scrubs in one box so quickly.”
She continued: “It was stressful. But with the police there, they were never going to physically push us or anything. But my concern is, what would have happened if the police were not there?”
She said that the police knew the anti-Israel protest was due to take place in advance.
“The two police officers took the protesters out of the shop – and then more police officers were called in,” she continued.
“The protestors did not manage to take the products out of the shop, because the officers took the boxes away from them. By the end of the night, there were around 10 officers at the door of the store.”
She said there was one customer and two other saleswomen in the Neal Street shop when protestors first entered.
The store manager said they locked the shop after the protestors were removed, so “the customer could feel more secure inside.
“When she left, I opened the door again.”
In a tweet, a representative of the anti-Israel LPA group claimed: “Sabon profits from apartheid, so we shut it down.”
However, the store manager confirmed that the shop stayed open until 8pm.
“The protestors stayed outside until we went home, but I knew they would not come back in because the police were there,” she added, noting that they were liaising with the police.
A Metropolitan police spokesman confirmed: “Officers liaised with businesses in the area. A small number of protestors briefly entered a business address on Neal Street.
“There were no arrests.”
Simon Cobbs, who co-founded grassroots group Sussex Friends of Israel, regularly counters anti-Israel demonstrations. He claimed that the timing of Tuesday’s protest, which coincided with the start of Yom Kippur, was deliberate so British Jews could not counter-demonstrate against the LPA group.
Before Tuesday, the most recent protest outside the store took place a month ago.
Sabon UK opened its first UK branch in London last October. At the time, there were fears that it could attract hostile activity from anti-Israel groups after the closure of fizzy-drinks store EcoStream in Brighton and the protests outside Kedem in Manchester, both Israeli-owned businesses.