Pellet smashes through window at Paris synagogue
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Pellet smashes through window at Paris synagogue

Suspect said in custody; no injuries in Monday night attack; rabbi, assistant were in building

Illustrative photo of Jews in Paris (photo credit: CC BY-SA mariosp/Flickr)
Illustrative photo of Jews in Paris (photo credit: CC BY-SA mariosp/Flickr)

A pellet fired from an air gun crashed through a window of a Paris synagogue’s office. The rabbi and his assistant were in the David Ben Ichay Synagogue in Belleville, in the northeastern section of the French capital, when the pellet was fired on Monday night. Nobody was injured in the attack.

French police arrested a suspect, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Tuesday night. It said the shooting took place during evening prayers.

Two suspects were seen outside the synagogue about 10 minutes before the attack, the JSSNews website reported earlier.

Police found a pellet hole in the office windowpane, Israel Radio said.

Surveillance cameras did not provide much information on the incident, according to the website. It was unclear whether the shots originated from the street or a nearby building.

The Bureau for National Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, condemned what it called the “anti-Semitic assault on a place of worship in Paris.” The watchdog group has made a public call for “everything to be done to identify and question the anti-Jewish criminals.”

Earlier Monday, a motorist had rammed his vehicle into a crowd in western France shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is greatest.” On Sunday, in a similar attack, a driver in eastern France had shouted “This is in the name of the children of Palestine” while slamming into a Christmas market crowd.

BNVCA said the attacks “are rooted in a misguided Palestinianism and visceral anti-Zionism. The BNVCA recommends that all those responsible for synagogues, Jewish schools and other institutions increase their vigilance and caution.”

Earlier this month, France was rocked by a rape of a Jewish woman in an anti-Semitic attack. In what President Francois Hollande described as an “unbearable” attack, assailants stormed the flat of a young couple, raping the woman and stealing jewelry and bank cards on December 3. That attack also drew fierce criticism from Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who said the fight against anti-Semitism must be “a national cause.”

Cazeneuve said anti-Semitic acts and threats have more than doubled in the past 10 months and called for the authorities to ensure that “none of them goes unpunished.”

The synagogue shooting on Monday night came amid high tensions in France, following three successive car-ramming attacks in past days in which 20 people have been injured. The French government has maintained the rampages are unrelated.

France is home to some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States.

Tensions over the recent Israel-Hamas conflict spilled out into the streets in July with looters destroying Jewish businesses and shouting anti-Israeli slogans.

The number of French Jews who have moved to Israel in the first 10 months of 2014 has more than doubled compared to last year, a leading Jewish agency said last week, attributing the spike to a sluggish economy and a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment.

AFP contributed to this report.

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