PARIS. Security forces in France have been put on high alert in response to the war in Gaza and the killing of a teacher on Friday by a radicalized Islamic student. In the last week after Hamas attacked Israel, French authorities recorded more than 189 anti-Semitic acts, leading to 65 arrests. In Arras, northern France, professor Dominique Bernard was fatally stabbed, with the attacker injuring three other citizens.

President Macron spoke of "Islamic terrorism" and ordered the strengthening of security measures in front of educational institutions. The country has been placed on anti-terror alert, with more than 7.000 Task Force soldiers already deployed across the country, where they will remain "until further notice", an Elysee Palace source said.

On Saturday afternoon, the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles were evacuated of visitors after a threatening letter was received by museum staff members. The removal of the visitors was done quickly by the police, who searched the premises without finding anything suspicious. At that time, 15.000 visitors were inside the Louvre museum and 13.000 in the palace and gardens of Versailles.

In his televised intervention yesterday, the French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, said that the situation remains tense. "There have been significant gatherings of people outside synagogues, shouting threatening slogans," the French minister said.

France is home to the largest Muslim and Jewish minorities in Europe. A demonstration in support of Israel was allowed by the police last Monday. Authorities, however, banned a protest march against the Israeli shelling of Gaza on Thursday, citing "the possibility of riots". Despite the ban, thousands of Parisians demonstrated in support of the Palestinian residents of Gaza, with police using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

In Germany

In Berlin, the Star of David was drawn by unknown people on the walls of German Jewish homes, while two other incidents of Jewish intimidation were reported to the capital's authorities. A resident who found the Star of David on her wall told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that she called the police, who asked her to report the incident through the online complaints service.

Authorities this week banned pro-Palestine demonstrations citing risks to public safety. "They advised me to erase the graffiti, because if I left it I might cause new reactions," said the woman, who said she was also concerned about the "mezuzah" amulet that every Jewish home places on the front door frame. "I no longer dare to speak Hebrew in the street," said the Berlin woman.

In England

The Sunak government has pledged to spend £3m to protect Jewish schools and places of worship in Britain. The country's Jewish community has announced that anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 324% since last weekend's Hamas attack compared to the same period last year.

Reacting to last week's pro-Palestinian protests in London, the country's Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, called on the judiciary to "be ruthless" against protesters celebrating the Hamas attack.

In Spain

Pro-Palestine slogans were written by unidentified people on the wall of a synagogue in central Madrid, while in Barcelona police are closely guarding potential targets, including synagogues and a Jewish educational center. The city's Jewish community suspended its events indefinitely. "The situation is very unpleasant. We are living a tragedy. Fear is there, but it's our job not to let it creep in and ruin our lives. We are following the instructions of the police and doing what we have to do," said Rabbi David Lieberson, who lives in Barcelona. According to Madrid's interior ministry, the alert level in the country is at level four, with a maximum of 5, and special police and military forces are patrolling potential targets.

Source: newspaper KATHIMERINH, 16.10.2023