Youth stabs, lightly injures Jew in Marseille

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A 15-year-old boy assaulted a Jewish man in Marseille with a machete, causing the victim minor injuries.

The suspected assailant was arrested shortly after the incident Monday in the port city in southern France, the AFP news agency reported.

The attack on the victim, who was wearing a kippah, occurred in daylight in front of a municipal building in the 9th Arrondissement, or district, of Marseille, a police source told AFP.

According to the French Jewish news site the victim is in his thirties. Identified only as Benjamin A., he was on his way to the Dvar Avraham synagogue when the attack happened, according to that website. Witnesses said the suspect shouted “allah hu akbar,” Arabic for “Allah is the greatest,” before the attack, the report said.

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The victim used a Torah book as a shield, according to the news site, which carried a photo of the blood-stained book. Its leather binding showed a deep cut. The victim was wounded in his back and in one of his arms by the large knife, which the attacker dropped as he fled the scene. He was arrested shortly after the attack.

The AFP report said the youth was “probably mentally ill,” citing an unnamed police source who said he was arrested while mumbling incoherent sentences.

But Hagay Sobol, a regional alderman for the Socialist Party and vice president of Marseille’s Edmond Fleg Jewish Community Center, disputed this assertion. “The insanity excuse doesn’t hold, it’s one of the strategies recommended by Daesh online,” he wrote on Twitter, using the name applied in France to the Islamic State terrorist group.

In November, three men, one of them wearing an T-shirt with the Islamic State logo, participated in the stabbing of a Jew in Marseille, causing him moderate injuries.

The previous month, a man who initially was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial was arrested for stabbing another Jew and assaulting two others. He was eventually tried and given a 4-year sentence following an outcry among French Jews who demanded the decision not to prosecute him be reviewed and altered, citing victims’ testimonies on his behavior and the absence of signs of mental illness in his past.

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