Greek police arrest 7 over attacks in May on Israeli hotel and synagogue

Four suspects, including two Iranians, accused of racially-motivated arson attack; another three arrested for throwing flammable materials at Athens synagogue

Illustrative: A Greek flag waves at Alimos beach, in southern Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.  (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Illustrative: A Greek flag waves at Alimos beach, in southern Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece (Reuters) — Greece’s anti-terrorism police have arrested seven people over arson attacks against an Israeli-owned hotel and a synagogue in central Athens this year, police said in a statement on Thursday.

A 25-year-old Greek woman, two Iranians, aged 46 and 36, and an Afghan accomplice, 44, were arrested over a May 15 attack with a makeshift incendiary bomb on a building housing an Israeli-owned hotel and restaurant.

The four were accused of arson that could potentially put human lives at risk and of causing damage to foreign-owned property in a racially motivated attack.

In another incident on June 18, a 44-year old Greek man and a 26-year-old Afghan rode near a synagogue in Athens on a motorcycle and threw flammable material at its entrance causing fire, police said. A police official said a 30-year-old Iranian had been arrested as their accomplice.

The three were accused of arson, gun possession and robbery among other violations, the official added. Police have seized evidence including mobile phones found in a residence in Athens and a prison.

Five of those arrested have been detained and two have been released on restrictions while awaiting trial.

In March 2023, Greek police arrested two men suspected of being members of a group that planned an arson or bomb attack against an Israeli restaurant and the same synagogue in Athens. The Mossad praised Greece for foiling the attack, accusing Iran of orchestrating the operation.

Since the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, which saw terrorists kill some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnap 251, sparking the ongoing war in Gaza, antisemitism has been on the rise throughout Europe.

Even prior to October 7, antisemitism has not been unheard of in Greece, where Holocaust memorials have been repeatedly vandalized, and public officials and lawyers have made antisemitic remarks.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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