Anti-Israel protesters clash with police in London (archive)
Anti-Israel protesters clash with police in London (archive) Reuters

The debate in British media about anti-Semitism within the Labour Party coincided with an 11-percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2016, a watchdog group said Wednesday, according to JTA.

The Community Security Trust (CST) registered 557 anti-Semitic incidents in that period, compared to 500 in the first half of 2015.

The 557-incident total is the second-highest CST has ever recorded in the January-June period of any year, after 629 incidents recorded in the first half of 2009.

“There is no obvious single cause for the increase in recorded anti-Semitic incidents, most of which came in April, May and June,” CST wrote in a statement about the report.

In an indirect reference to the debate over Labour, the statement also read: “This was a period when anti-Semitism, racism and extremism were reported and discussed prominently in the national media.”

The report comes as the Labour party is embroiled in a saga over the anti-Semitism among its members.

The party in recent months has been forced to suspend dozens of members over anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn himself has come under fire for calling Hamas and Hezbollah his "friends".

More recently, Corbyn outright refused to condemn those two terrorist organizations despite being urged to do so by local Jewish groups.

Letters that were exposed in June also reveal that Corbyn in the past described Israel’s politicians as “criminals,” called for them to be banned from Britain and for trade sanctions to be imposed on the Jewish state.

Corbyn was accused by Jewish community representatives as well as senior Labour members and backers of generating an atmosphere that encouraged expressions of anti-Semitism due to his comments.

Corbyn has disputed this, although last month he also said he regrets calling Hezbollah and Hamas his "friends."

Separately, Labour lawmaker Jan Royall confirmed in a report about anti-Semitism in her party’s Oxford University chapter that some of that chapter’s members engaged in anti-Semitic acts, though she said the club was not “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Royall’s report, published Wednesday by The Jewish Chronicle, does not include examples of the anti-Semitic incidents .

The first half of 2016 also saw a polarizing debate in the United Kingdom about whether the country should exit the European Union, a decision favored by 52 percent of voters in a national referendum that took place on June 23.

According to CST and police figures, Britain saw a considerable increase in xenophobic incidents following the vote, where immigration was a central theme. Jews, however, were not singled out for such attacks after the vote on the British exit, or Brexit.