French Jewish woman stabbed, seriously wounded at Lyon home; swastika daubed on door

Mayor decries ‘unspeakable’ surge in violence; prosecutor’s office says attack ‘could have antisemitism as its motive’

An ambulance drives down the street in Lyon, eastern France, on July 16, 2023. (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP)
An ambulance drives down the street in Lyon, eastern France, on July 16, 2023. (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP)

A Jewish woman was found with stab wounds on Saturday at her home in Lyon, which had also been graffitied with a large swastika.

The woman, aged around 30, was taken to a local hospital to be treated for serious abdominal wounds, which were not life-threatening.

According to France’s Le Figaro, a masked man dressed in dark clothes rang the woman’s doorbell several times “insistently,” and when she answered, stabbed her in the abdomen.

Police are treating the attack as attempted murder, they said, adding that the woman’s life was not in danger and no arrest had been made.

“This act could have antisemitism as its motive,” the prosecutors’ office in the southeastern city said late Saturday.

Lyon Mayor Grégory Doucet decried the attack in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “Such a surge of violence is unspeakable. All my support to the victim, to her loved ones.”

The regional branch of the CRIF, the representative council of Jewish institutions in France, quickly condemned the stabbing, saying it had “prompted great concern in the Jewish community.”

CRIF president Richard Zalmati also urged “caution,” saying it was up to the judiciary to determine whether there had been an antisemitic motive to the attack.

The victim’s lawyer, Stephane Drai, told the BFMTV broadcaster that her family’s Jewish faith was known in the neighborhood.

Since Hamas’s deadly October 7 attack on southern Israel, there have been pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rallies held around the world, and a spike in antisemitic incidents and attacks.

French authorities said 19,000 people demonstrated in Paris on Saturday, while the CGT communist-led trade union put the numbers at 60,000.

“Free Palestine” placards proliferated in the French capital, where slogans were heard calling for a boycott of Israel along with shouts of “Israel terrorist state.”

Around 40 other demonstrations were called across France, with 5,000 people turning out in Lyon, according to a police estimate.

A protestor holds a sign reading ‘Genocide in progress in Gaza, and the French government is banning demonstrations in support to Palestinian people. We won’t forget’ in Paris, on November 4, 2023 (Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

France in particular has seen a surge in antisemitic incidents over the past month.

Last week, Stars of David were painted on a number of buildings in Paris and its suburbs.

In another nearby town of Saint-Ouen, they were accompanied by inscriptions such as “Palestine will overcome.”

A man walks along a building whose facade was covered with Stars of David painted during the night, in the Alesia district of Paris, on October 31, 2023. (VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

The Union of Jewish Students of France said the graffiti was designed to mirror the way Jews were forced by the Nazi regime to wear yellow stars.

“This act of marking recalls the processes of the 1930s and the Second World War which led to the extermination of millions of Jews,” its president, Samuel Lejoyeux, told AFP.

“The people who did this clearly wanted to terrify,” he added.

In a video that went viral last week, a group was heard singing an antisemitic song with no intervention from others traveling on the same train.

The incidents came amid a spike in antisemitism around the world as Israel fights a fierce war against the Hamas terror group, after 3,000 of its gunmen burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip last month by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing at least 245 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign with the intention of destroying Hamas and remove it from power in Gaza, as well as returning the hostages. Alongside a ground maneuver, the IDF has carried out intensive strikes on Gaza, saying it is hitting terror targets while striving to minimize civilian casualties.

The Hamas-run health ministry has said over 9,000 people have been killed in the Strip. The figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include its own terrorists and gunmen, killed in Israel and in Gaza, and the victims of a blast at a Gaza City hospital on October 17 caused by an Islamic Jihad missile misfire that Hamas has blamed on Israel.

Meanwhile, Hamas and other terror groups have continued to barrage Israel with rockets, from both the north and the south, displacing over 200,000 people from their homes while over a million are repeatedly forced to run to bomb shelters.

Earlier this month, a global task force against antisemitism warned that already rising antisemitism due to the war was likely to spread.

The so-called J7, representing the six largest national Jewish communities outside of Israel along with the US-based Anti-Defamation League, called on governments to take a clear stance against antisemitism while also working to protect and secure their Jewish communities.

AFP contributed to this report.

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