Three people who displayed images of paragliders at a pro-Palestinian march in central London a week after Hamas militants entered Israel have been found guilty of a terror offence.

Heba Alhayek, 29, and Pauline Ankunda, 26, attached images of paragliders to their backs with tape, while Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo, 27, stuck one to the handle of a placard.

They displayed the images on October 14 2023, just seven days after militants from Hamas used paragliders to enter Israel from Gaza on October 7 before killing more than 1,000 Israelis.

They were charged under the Terrorism Act with carrying or displaying an article to arouse reasonable suspicion that they are supporters of banned organisation Hamas, which they denied.


But following a two-day trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the trio were found guilty on Tuesday after prosecutors argued it was “no coincidence” the defendants were displaying the images so soon after the attack.

Giving his verdict, Deputy Senior District Judge Tan Ikram said: “Seven days earlier, Hamas went into Israel with what was described by the media as paragliders.

“A reasonable person would have seen and read that.

“I do not find a reasonable person would interpret the image merely as a symbol of freedom.

“I want to be clear, there’s no evidence that any of these defendants are supporters of Hamas, or were seeking to show support for them.”

But Mr Ikram said he had “decided not to punish” the defendants, and handed the trio each a 12-month conditional discharge.

“You crossed the line, but it would have been fair to say that emotions ran very high on this issue, he added.

“Your lesson has been well learned.

“I do not find you were seeking to show any support for Hamas.”

Lawyers for the group had suggested they were actually displaying images of a parachute emoji rather than paragliders, and claimed police had “mistaken” what they saw that day.

Mark Summers KC, for Alhayek and Ankunda, said the idea that the image was a paraglider started with “an internet group with an agenda”.

He also argued that flying-related images were a common symbol of peace in the region.


Reacting to the verdict, the Crown Prosecution Service said displaying the images amounted to the “glorification of the actions” of Hamas.

Nick Price, head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “All three women knowingly displayed the images of paragliders in central London and therefore showed their support for Hamas – a proscribed terrorist organisation.

“The fact that these images were being displayed in the context of a protest opposing the Israeli response to the Hamas attacks demonstrates a glorification of the actions taken by the group.

“Displaying these images could be viewed as celebrating the use of paragliders as a tactic to breach the Gaza/Israel border, and creates a risk of encouraging others to support Hamas.

“When people break the law – whether by hateful speech, supporting proscribed organisations or by threatening public order – we prosecute swiftly and independently.

“We have already prosecuted a string of offences linked to events in the Middle East and we are working closely with the police and community leaders to make sure our approach commands public confidence.”