Violent anti-Jewish riots in Paris on Sunday, sparked by Israel’s ongoing operation in Gaza to halt rocket attacks from the coastal enclave, left Jews in the French capital fearing for their lives. One French Jewish activist warned: “French Jews are in serious danger.”
An anti-Israel demonstration at the city’s Bastille Square quickly turned violent with protesters seeking out and attacking Jewish targets and screaming “death to the Jews” and “Hitler was right” according to community newspaper, JSS News.
Signs in support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood were on display as well as a replica of a Palestinian rocket similar to those launched from Gaza at Israel in recent weeks, according to the report.
Hundreds of Parisian Jews were trapped in a synagogue while rioters threw stones and bricks. The group was initially thought to be held hostage and was freed to leave the center only after police intervention at 9 p.m. A Jewish owned store on rue de la Roquette was trashed by 50 men with iron bars and a young man was hospitalized nearby, according to reports.
Another synagogue in Paris was also attacked and a source told The Algemeiner that a similar demonstration in Marseille also turned violent.
“What we are witnessing in Paris today is extremely, extremely serious. Jews are in peril for their lives,” New York-based French Jewish artist and activist Ron Agam told The Algemeiner.
Criticizing French police, Agam said, “French authorities acted like amateurs in failing to predict collateral violence against the Jewish community. I am outraged like I never have been against the Government for being so careless when they knew how radical this demonstration against Israel was going to be.”
“To see so many French people, most of them Muslims, calling for a pogrom against Jews and supporting a criminal and terrorist organization is the most troublesome situation,” he said, “French Jews are in serious danger.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the attempted synagogue stormings “in the strongest possible terms,” according to AFP. “Such acts targeting places of worship are unacceptable,” he said in a statement.
“I am profoundly shocked and revolted. This aggression towards the Jewish community has taken an absolutely unacceptable turn,” Joel Mergui, president of the Israelite Central Consistory of France, told AFP.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for “calm in the face of tensions” in the Middle East, The Times of Israel reported.
In the meantime, a community source told The Algemeiner that France’s Jews are staying indoors for fear of their lives. On Facebook, Jews called for stronger independent organized resistance and praised the Betar movement and France’s Jewish Defense League.
Watch a video report on the violence below: