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Signs twinning Bournemouth with Israeli city of Netanya go missing

The Jewish mayor of Bournemouth has been left “very upset and disappointed” after signs recognising one of the town’s twin cities – Netanya, in west-central Israel – were removed from four of their posts at separate locations in the area.

Dorset Police have launched an investigation into the sign removal at the seaside town.

The metal signs recognising Netanya, a resort city on the Mediterranean coast about 20 miles north of Tel Aviv, disappeared from the main “Welcome to Bournemouth” signage yesterday. Signs marking the town’s twinning with Lucerne in Switzerland were untouched.

The thefts occurred on Mountbatten Roundabout, Ringwood Road, Magna Road and New Road. It is not yet known who removed the signs or their motive.

Bournemouth twinned with Netanya in 1995.

Commenting on the removal of the signs, Mayor of Bournemouth Anne Filer said she was “very upset and disappointed”.

She added: “I hope that the police investigation finds them soon and gets them back to where they should be,” she added.

Her husband, Michael Filer, who preceded his wife as the town’s mayor and currently serves as chairman of the twinning committee speculated that there “could be unpleasant intent” behind the signs’ removal and the council “would like to get them back”.

“Bournemouth has been twinned with Netanya, who went through the Bournemouth Council some 20 years ago, and there have been inter-town visits on a frequent basis,” he told The Bournemouth Daily Echo.

“I look forward to them being put back again and carrying on with normal procedures.”

A spokeswoman for Dorset Police said: “We have been made aware that a number of signs around Bournemouth have been removed and we are liaising with BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) Council to establish the circumstances and identify whether any offences have been committed.”

A BCP Council spokesperson said: “Bournemouth remains twinned with Netanya. We have ordered replacement signs and will install them as soon as possible.”

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth, has been repeatedly targeted by anti-Israel protesters in recent months. More than 60 people protested outside his home in February.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said at the time: “Democracy is built on free debate – but increasingly MPs have been targeted by aggressive mobs for exercising those freedoms.”

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