ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Paris Stars of David graffiti may have been ordered from abroad, prosecutor says

Two Moldovans arrested in connection with incident tell investigators they were acting on behalf of third party; French foreign ministry employee tears down hostage posters

A man walks next to a building the façade of which was covered with Stars of David painted during the night, in the Alesia district of Paris, on October 31, 2023. (VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)
A man walks next to a building the façade of which 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 recent daubing of dozens of Stars of David on buildings in Paris and its suburbs, widely condemned as antisemitic, may have been carried out at the “express demand” of an individual residing abroad, the Paris prosecutor said Tuesday.

An investigating magistrate will now probe what was the intention of the mass daubing of buildings with the stars, prosecutor Laure Beccuau said in a statement, following the arrest of two Moldovans who told investigators they were acting at the behest of a third party.

Beccuau said that around 60 Stars of David had been found daubed on walls in Paris on the morning of October 31 and similar stars also found in outlying regions.

Video footage showed that the inscriptions were made by a woman and man during a single trip, watched by a third person who took photographs. The two individuals swiftly left French territory.

But a link was established with similar images daubed four days earlier, which led to the arrest of the two Moldovans in the 10th district of Paris on October 27, she said.

“They said they acted on the command of a third party for remuneration, which was backed up by a Russian-language conversation on their telephone,” she said.

Telephone investigations have shown the two Moldovans and those behind the later graffiti were “in touch with the same third person.”

“At this stage it is thus not to be excluded that the daubing the Stars of David was done at the express demand of an individual residing abroad,” Beccuau added.

A man enters a building whose facade was covered with Stars of David painted during the night, in the Alesia district of Paris, on October 31, 2023. (Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AFP)

Tensions have been rising in Paris, home to large Jewish and Muslim communities, in the wake of the devastating attack by Palestinian terror group Hamas on Israel on October 7 that killed over 1,400 people, mostly civilians. In addition, terrorists abducted at least 240 people — men, women and children, including babies — dragging them to Gaza as captives. Thirty-five French citizens were among those killed and nine are held captive or missing, including several children.

The assault provoked a war in which Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and remove it from power in the Gaza Strip. Israel has carried out intensive strikes, saying it is hitting terror infrastructure.

The graffiti, which for some brought back horrific memories of the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II and deportation of its Jews to death camps, were condemned across the political spectrum.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne described the graffiti as “despicable acts,” saying they will not go unpunished.

The two speakers of the French legislature, Gerard Larcher of the upper house Senate and Yael Braun-Pivet of the National Assembly, have called for a mass march against antisemitism this Sunday.

Meanwhile, a French lawmaker posted a video Tuesday he said showed an employee at France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tearing down posters displaying hostages held by Hamas that were put on the wall of a building. Pro-Israel activists have been putting up posters in cities around the world, each showing the name and face of a kidnapped person along with a demand that they be freed.

MP Meyer Habib, a dual French-Israeli citizen, posted to X (formerly Twitter) saying Sophie Pommier, whom he identified as a training adviser at the ministry, was the one pulling down the flyers.

In the video, a heated argument, in English, develops between a group of people who were apparently posting the flyers, and Pommier. At least one person in the group putting up the posters is heard speaking in Israeli-accented English.

Pommier is heard saying “Israel assassin” and “Palestine.”

“Antisemitism, hatred of Israel and the apology for terrorism unfortunately sometimes nestle at the heart of the AFP, the civil service and now even within French diplomacy!” Habib wrote, referring to the French news agency AFP.

“It is unthinkable to continue to finance antisemitism with public funds!” he continued and vowed to send a letter to France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

A French diplomat based in Israel clarified that Pommier has not been employed by the ministry for months, but that a probe would be opened nonetheless.

“Although this person has no longer had contractual relations with this ministry since last summer, an administrative investigation will be carried out from today at the request of Minister Catherine Colonna into the conditions of her recruitment,” wrote Mathieu Hedoin.

Hedoin said in a tweet that tearing down the posters, and French publications comparing Hamas to the French Resistance in World War II, could be prosecuted by the French courts.

“The video released today shows a totally unworthy attitude, behavior and comments, which completely disqualify this person from maintaining any working relationship with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs,” wrote Hedoin.

France has recorded more than a thousand antisemitic acts since the deadly October 7 attack, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Sunday.

Last 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.

In Berlin, Stars of David have also been found daubed on buildings where Jews live.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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