French police say suspects in Paris Holocaust memorial graffiti case fled to Belgium

Prosecutors say bus reservations made from Bulgaria; red hands, symbolizing calls for Gaza ceasefire, painted on wall honoring those who rescued Jews, surrounding buildings

Red hands graffitis are seen on the "Wall of the Righteous" (Mur des Justes), in Paris, France, on May 14, 2024. (Antonin UTZ / AFP)
Red hands graffitis are seen on the "Wall of the Righteous" (Mur des Justes), in Paris, France, on May 14, 2024. (Antonin UTZ / AFP)

PARIS, France — French police have tracked three suspects in last week’s defacement of the Paris Holocaust Memorial across the border into Belgium, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The suspects were caught on security footage as they moved through Paris before “departing for Belgium from the Bercy bus station” in southeast Paris, prosecutors said.

Investigators added that the suspects’ travel “reservations had been made from Bulgaria.”

On May 14, red hands were found daubed on the Wall of the Righteous at the Paris Holocaust Memorial, which lists 3,900 people honored for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II.

Prosecutors are investigating damage to a protected historical building for national, ethnic, racial, or religious motives.

Similar tags were found elsewhere in the Marais district of central Paris, historically a center of French Jewish life.

A picture shows red hand graffitis painted on buildings’ walls of Moussy Street, in the area where earlier a Holocaust memorial was vandalized with the same red hand prints in Paris, France, on May 14, 2024. (Antonin UTZ / AFP)

The hands echoed imagery used earlier this month by students demonstrating for a ceasefire in Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza, which began after the terror group launched its devastating October 7 onslaught, murdering 1,200 people in southern Israel and taking 252 hostages to the Strip.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle.

Two hundred and eighty-three soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

The discovery of the hands prompted a new wave of outrage over antisemitism.

In February, a French source told AFP that Paris’s internal security service believed Russia’s FSB security service was behind an October graffiti campaign tagging stars of David on Paris buildings.

A Moldovan couple was arrested in the case.

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