France probes Stars of David graffiti in Paris

France probes Stars of David graffiti in Paris

PARIS (AFP): Paris prosecutors opened an investigation Tuesday into dozens of Stars of David daubed on buildings around the city and its suburbs, seen as threatening Jews amid the war between Israel and Hamas.

Fresh stars were painted overnight on the facades of several buildings in a southern district of Paris, an AFP journalist saw on Tuesday.

Similar tags appeared over the weekend in suburbs of the city including Vanves, Fontenay-aux-Roses and Aubervilliers.

In the nearby town of Saint-Ouen they were accompanied by inscriptions such as “Palestine will overcome.”

The Union of Jewish Students of France said they were designed to mirror the way Jews were forced to wear the stars by the Nazi regime.

“This act of marking recalls the processes of the 1930s and the Second World War which led to the extermination of millions of Jews,” its president Samuel Lejoyeux told AFP.

“The people who did this clearly wanted to terrify,” he added.

The mayor of Aubervilliers, Karine Franclet, condemned the graffiti as being “in total contradiction with the fundamental values that we hold, including tolerance, equality and mutual respect, particularly in the current context.”

Saint-Ouen’s mayor Karim Bouamrane said perpetrators must be punished by the courts “with the greatest severity” in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

Israel has bombarded the Palestinian territory of Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas militants, which killed around 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.

More than 8,500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza, the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory said in its latest toll.

Many Jews say they have felt unsafe in Paris since the violence flared in Israel.

Jacques Isaac Azeroual, a kosher butcher in the city’s 19th district, which has a large Jewish community, said his customers had fallen by half.

“People are demoralized. They are scared of going out to shop,” he told AFP, adding that he shuts an hour early and covers his kippa with a hat when he leaves for fear of aggression.

The government says more than 800 incidents of anti-Semitism were registered in France in the three weeks after the Hamas assault.

That is equal to the number of incidents over two or three years previously, says the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions.

“They were not triggered by indignation over the images from Gaza — the anti-Semitic acts began on October 7, even before the Israeli response,” said its president Yonathan Arfi.