Shots fired at two Jewish schools in Montreal as antisemitism spikes in Canada

No injuries caused in attacks, which come days after a synagogue near the city was firebombed and clashes over Israel-Hamas war erupted on campus at Concordia University

Illustrative: Montreal police at a crime scene in Montreal, Quebec on November 13, 2020. (Andrej Ivanov / AFP)
Illustrative: Montreal police at a crime scene in Montreal, Quebec on November 13, 2020. (Andrej Ivanov / AFP)

MONTREAL — Shots were fired, without causing casualties, at two Jewish schools in Montreal overnight, police said Thursday, as tensions rose in Canada over the Israel-Hamas war.

When staff arrived in the morning they found bullet holes in the front doors of the schools in the Côte-des-Neiges neighborhood.

Earlier this week in Montreal, a synagogue was firebombed and clashes erupted between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel student groups at Concordia University, officials said.

“I know emotions are high, and people are scared. But attacking each other is not who we are as Canadians,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “If anywhere in the world is going to start building the kinds of understandings that we’re going to need to see peaceful resolution in the Middle East… it starts in a place like Canada.”

On Wednesday, Trudeau reported a “terrifying” rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia across the country.

He said Canada has a long tradition of peaceful co-existence among diverse peoples and said it was the “responsibility of every single Canadian to see how we are recognizing each other’s pain and fear and move forward.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, Mach 24, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

Montreal police told AFP nobody was injured in the shootings at the Jewish schools and the firebombing of the synagogue.

At Concordia, one person was arrested for assault and three were treated for minor injuries following the scuffles.

Administrators said that university, like others, has witnessed “a concerning rise in acts of intimidation and intolerant behavior” that have left students in fear.

In a separate incident, swastikas were discovered in one of the school’s buildings, they said in a statement.

Eta Yudin of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which represents Jews across the country, called the shootings at the Montreal schools “hateful and evil.”

“No child in Montreal should see their place of learning targeted by a weapon designed to kill,” she said. “The hate must stop. Our city is in crisis.”

Over the past month, police counted 73 hate crimes against Montreal’s Jewish community, or one more than in all of 2022 targeting all groups.

Yair Szlak, a representative of the local Jewish organization Federation CJA, called the attacks on Jews in Quebec unacceptable.

“These are difficult times for Jews around the world,” he said. “There are those who are trying to import the war going on in Israel to the streets of Montreal.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault called for a stepped-up police presence. Questioned by reporters he said he was also not ruling out banning protests related to the new Mideast conflict.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, between October 7 — when Hamas-led terrorists killed some 1,400 people and took over 240 as hostages in a devastating attack on Israel, and Israel subsequently went to war against Hamas in Gaza — and November 7, Montreal police recorded 73 hate crimes and hate incidents against Jews. In comparison, Montreal police reported 72 hate crimes and incidents against all minorities for all of 2022.

Antisemitic incidents have spiked around the world over the past month, with synagogues as frequent targets. Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Berlin synagogue last month.

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