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JC editor Stephen Pollard issued a statement saying: “We apologise for the upset caused.”

Community leaders have reacted to the Jewish Chronicle’s controversial decision to run an advert promoting an Islamic charity with alleged links to Hamas.

The JC apologised to readers angered by its decision to publish an advert on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee [DEC] for victims of Gaza.

The DEC is comprised of 13 aid organisations including Islamic Relief, which is banned in Israel over claims it funds Hamas.

In June Israel’s defence minister Moshe Yaalon branded it “an unauthorised association” and empowered Israeli authorities to seize all funds the group sends to Gaza.

The quantity of complaints received and anger expressed was sufficient for the JC’s editor, Stephen Pollard, to publish an open letter to readers on the newspaper’s website.

He wrote: “This is an advert, and not an expression of the JC’s view. We keep editorial coverage entirely separate from our commercial operations.”

The newspaper also issued a statement on its Facebook page, saying: “We apologise for the upset caused.”

Readers are being given space to air their objections in this week’s edition of the newspaper, which is also expected to include free advertising aimed at “encouraging readers to donate to a range of charities supporting Israel”.

One senior community source, who asked to remain anonymous, was unequivocal in his condemnation of the newspaper’s decision to run the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza crisis appeal, saying: “It’s clear the JC is no longer in touch with the mood of the community when it comes to Israel.”

And Keith Fraser, of pro-Israel campaign group StandWithUs, said: “The JC has put money over morals, not to mention the morale of the community.”

However, Rabbi Danny Rich of Liberal Judaism backed the JC. He said: “They were right to carry it. This is a humanitarian appeal, in accordance with Jewish ethics. Kids are dying. Schools, hospitals and water facilities need to be rebuilt.”

He added: “When kids are dying, you have a duty to respond. In fact, when you support the action that causes it, you have even more of a duty to respond.”