In what appears to be a part of pro-Palestinian protests in the U.K., live rodents were released inside three separate McDonald’s restaurants. In one incident the animals looked to be spray-painted red, black and green – the colours of the Palestinian flag.
Police in Birmingham told The Guardian they are investigating after the first incident, which took place on Monday.
Video footage posted to TikTok of the incident shows a man who appears to have a Palestinian flag tied around his head carry boxes of red, green and black painted mice from the trunk of his car into the restaurant before spilling them out onto the floor.
Panicked customers scurry out of the way, while the man can be heard shouting “Boycott Israel” and “F— Israel.”
A second clip shows what appears to be a box of mice dumped on the ground near the counter of a separate location. A group of people can be heard chanting support for Palestinians as the animals are released.
The BBC reports a third incident of a similar nature was also shared across social media this week.
Police told local media that they were treating the first incident as a public nuisance offence.
“We’re investigating after live rodents were thrown into a restaurant off Watson Road, Nechells. We understand the distress this will have caused and it’s not acceptable in any circumstances,” West Midlands police told The Guardian.
“This is currently being treated as a public nuisance offence and we’ve active lines of inquiries to identify, and then arrest, who was involved.”
A spokesperson for the fast food giant confirmed the first incident to LBC News.
“We are aware of an incident in our Birmingham Star City restaurant this evening where a number of mice were released by a member of the public,” the rep said. “Following the removal of the mice, the restaurant has been fully sanitized and our pest control partners have been called out to conduct a full inspection.”
The chairman of the National Jewish Assembly is condemning the protest.
“The action of throwing mice into a restaurant where customers are eating is extremely sickening. It causes distress to both the people present and also the mice themselves, and is both a cruel and dangerous thing to do,” Gary Mond told The Jerusalem Post.
“However, from a political perspective, it is totally futile. It will do nothing to bring any support to the ‘Free Palestine’ cause, which in any event is based on Jew-hatred as opposed to support for the Arabs who live in Gaza,” he added.
McDonald’s has become a target for protestors and boycotts after the franchise in Israel posted on social media that it handed over thousands of meals to soldiers with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), according to Reuters. (McDonald’s Israel is owned by Alonyal Ltd.)
The U.S. burger giant’s franchises in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Turkey issued statements disassociating themselves from the Israeli franchise and in most cases pledging aid to Gaza.
“In regard to the news that McDonald’s in Israel was donating meals. We affirm that it was an individual decision on their part,” McDonald’s franchise in Saudi Arabia said in a statement to Reuters. “Neither global McDonald’s nor us nor any other country had a role or relationship with that decision, neither directly nor indirectly.”
McDonald’s is a global chain, but as per the statement, its franchises are often owned locally and operate autonomously.
According to CNN, McDonald’s corporate office hasn’t said much about the conflict. They told the news outlet that they are committed to ensuring the safety of its franchisees and are making a US$1 million donation that will be split evenly between the Red Cross and the World Food Program.
A spokesperson for McDonald’s told the BBC the company is “dismayed by the disinformation and inaccurate reports regarding our position in response to the conflict in the Middle East.”
The chain added: “McDonald’s Corporation is not funding or supporting any governments involved in this conflict, and any actions from our local developmental licensee business partners were made independently without McDonald’s consent or approval.”
Local police have yet to comment on the second and third incidents.
— With files from Reuters