Volley of shots fired at Jewish girls’ school in Toronto; no injuries

Two suspects open fire on Bais Chaya Mushka complex in early hours of morning; political leaders condemn incident as antisemitic; Jewish community laments rising hatred

Footage shows gunmen firing shots a the Bais Chaya Mushka Jewish girls school in Toronto, Canada, May 25, 2024. (Social media/X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Two people opened fire at a Jewish girls’ school in Toronto early Saturday, without causing any injuries but prompting Canadian authorities to step up security at other schools and synagogues, police said.

Political leaders denounced the incident while Jewish community representatives said it was a symptom of rising antisemitism in Canada that has spiked since the start of an ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The suspects, who arrived at Bais Chaya Mushka in a dark-colored vehicle, opened fire just before 5 a.m. and caused “some damage to the front of the school” before leaving the scene, police inspector Paul Krawczyk said at a news conference.

Police increased their presence in the school’s north Toronto neighborhood, as well as at other schools and synagogues, Krawczyk said.

“I completely understand that this can cause concern and fear and anxiety in the community,” he said, without speculating on the motive.

“We’re not going to ignore the obvious, you know, what occurred here and what the target of the shooting was,” he said. “But at the same time, it will be wrong to just guess at this point.”

There apparently was no one inside at the time.

A video shared on social media showed two people each armed with a pistol lining up and firing at the building. There were reportedly five shots fired.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, however, called the incident “a gross display of anti-Semitism.”

“It’s beyond belief that anyone could be this hateful,” he said in a post on X. “These cowards need to be found and brought to justice.”

“Reports of shots fired at a Jewish elementary school in North York are despicable — a brazen act of antisemitism,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The B’nai Brith Canada rights group, in a post to social media platform X, said the gun violence at the school was “outrageous” and “cannot be tolerated!”

“This incident is a stark reminder of the dangers created by a permissive environment that tolerates hate-preaching encampments, hate speech and related antisemitism which threaten the very fabric of our Canadian society,” it said and called on the city’s mayor to “denounce this hateful act.”

In a post to her own X feed, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow wrote, “This is a despicable antisemitic act. Jewish children and families should not be made to fear for their safety.”

The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs advocacy group said in a statement, “This is a clear, calculated, and pre-meditated targeting of a Jewish school for girls.”

“The fact a school was targeted regardless of whether kids were present or not represents another worrying escalation in the violence Jewish Canadians have been experiencing,” the statement said. “We will stay vigilant, but we will not be intimidated.”

Michael Levitt, president-CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, “This shocking escalation of violence directed at innocent Jewish children must serve as a wake-up call for political leaders in our city and across our country.”

“It is time for our leaders to stop with the sympathetic words and instead to take the decisive actions that are necessary to confront the escalating hatred that is plaguing our communities,” he said in a statement. “Jews in this country will not hide or cower in fear in the face of this brazen and cowardly act.”

The shooting comes amid the war in Gaza sparked by Hamas’s massive October 7 terror attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. The thousands of terrorists who burst into Israel from the Gaza Strip also abducted 242 people of all ages as hostages to the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas, topple its Gaza regime, and free the hostages of whom 121 are still in captivity, some believed no longer alive.

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. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

In November, a Jewish school in Montreal was hit by gunfire twice in one week. There were no injuries.

Earlier this month, B’nai Brith Canada released a report showing there were 5,791 documented acts of violence, harassment, and vandalism targeting Jews in 2023, more than twice the total in 2022.

Canada’s special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism, Deborah Lyons, told The Times of Israel in a recent interview that “It’s clear from the data we’re seeing, particularly coming from police units across Canada, that there’s a huge increase in antisemitism in terms of hate crimes happening.”

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