More than a dozen men hurled firebombs at a synagogue in Gothenburg in southern Sweden hours after locals marched in the city against the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
No one was injured in the attack Saturday night, which ended without injury, the online edition of the Expressen daily reported.
Dvir Maoz, the World Bnei Akiva youth movement’s emissary in Gothenburg, told JTA that the attack happened a little after 10 p.m. local time while youths from the Jewish community were attending a party inside the synagogue complex.
Looking outside from inside the synagogue lobby area, he said he saw in the corner of his eye “a ball of fire” approaching the building. “The guards saw it in the security cameras and called police right away. The children were stressed, it was the first time they had ever experienced a terrorist attack near them.”
The children’s parents were called to take them home after police arrived at the scene and scanned the area to make sure it was safe to come out, Maoz said. The culprits had already left by the time police arrived. The building did not sustain any substantial damage that he could see, he added.
As they waited for police to arrive, the children were taken down to the basement floor for safety, Laila Takolander, a member of the local Jewish community, told the Expressen daily.
Police do not have suspects in custody, according to the report.
Hours before the attack, which police are investigating, several hundred people marched through the city’s center in protest of US President Donald Trump’s Wednesday declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In an address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality. The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
At other protest rallies over the move in Sweden, Austria and France, participants chanted, respectively, in Arabic about shooting Jews, an ancient massacre of Jews, and freedom for Palestinian terrorists.
The Swedish rally where chants about shooting Jews were heard happened on Friday night in the southern city of Malmo, Sveriges Radio reported.
“We have announced the intifada from Malmö. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews,” some in the rally of 200 demonstrators shouted, according to the public radio station. Intifada is the Arabic-language word for a violent uprising.
Earlier that day in Vienna, hundreds of participants in a rally shouted in Arabic, “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.” The cry relates to an event in the seventh century when Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia.
And in France, around 400 people gathered at Republique square Saturday, where they cheered when an organizers wearing a shirt that promotes a boycott of Israel, said: “This demonstration is also about freedom for Hassan Hamouri, Marwan Barghouti and all the Palestinian prisoners.” The crowd shouted back: “Freedom to the Palestinian prisoners.”
Barghouti was sentenced by an Israeli court in 2004 to multiple life sentences for planning dozens of deadly terrorist attacks. Hamouri is a terrorist for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group who was arrested by Israel in 2005 and imprisoned following his conviction of planning to assassinate the late Israeli rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Hamouri, who is a French citizen, was released from Israeli prison in exchange for the IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who Hamas abducted in 2006. But he was arrested again earlier this year, allegedly for violating the terms of his release by continuing to plan terrorist activities.
The speaker at the Paris rally also urged listeners to show their “solidarity and resistance.” They chanted “Netanyahu war criminal” and called for the arrest of the Israeli prime minister during his visit Sunday to France and Brussels, where he is scheduled to meet with several leaders of EU countries.
A smaller protest rally than the one held on Republique took place in the eastern city of Lyon Saturday.
Separately, Dutch police released from custody a 29-year-old Palestinian who on Thursday smashed the windows of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam while waving a Palestinian flag, the De Telegraaf daily reported. He will be tried on December 20 for vandalism and theft, because he took an Israeli flag out of the restaurant before two police officers arrested him. The report did not state whether he would also be tried for a hate crime.