More than a dozen men hurled firebombs at a synagogue in Gothenburg in southern Sweden hours after locals marched in the city against the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. No one was injured in the attack on motzei Shabbat.
Dvir Maoz, World Bnei Akiva youth movement emissary in Gothenburg, told JTA that the attack happened a little after 10 pm while youths from the local Jewish community were attending a party in the synagogue building. Looking outside from inside the synagogue lobby area, he said he saw in the corner of his eye “a ball of fire” approaching.
“The guards saw it in the security cameras and called police right away. The children were stressed; it was the first time they had ever experienced a terrorist attack near them.”
The culprits had already left by the time police arrived. The building did not sustain any substantial damage that he could see, Maoz added.
Hours before the attack, several hundred people marched through the city’s center to protest of President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.
“It is unconscionable that Jews are under attack on the streets of Europe, whether by terrorists hurling Molotov cocktails or openly and brazenly calling for the mass murder of Jews in Malmo, Vienna and Paris,” European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said in a statement. “We call on European governments to take strong punitive action against those who perpetrated these acts and call for the immediate arrest of anyone who makes anyone making murderous chants.”
Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson wrote on Twitter: “[I]t is horrendous … to invoke violence against Jews,” and vowed to prosecute identifiable offenders.
At other protest rallies about Jerusalem in Sweden, Austria and France, participants chanted, respectively, in Arabic about shooting Jews, an ancient massacre of Jews, and freedom for Palestinian terrorists.
In the southern Swedish city of Malmö on Friday night, rally participants chanted, according to Sveriges Radio, “We have announced the intifada from Malmö. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews.”
Earlier that day in Vienna, hundreds of participants in a rally shouted in Arabic, “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.” The cry relates to an event in the seventh century when Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia.
And in France, around 400 people gathered at Place de la République on Saturday, where they cheered when an organizer, wearing a shirt that promotes a boycott of Israel, said: “This demonstration is also about freedom for Hassan Hamouri, Marwan Barghouti and all the Palestinian prisoners.” The crowd shouted back: “Freedom to the Palestinian prisoners.”
Barghouti was sentenced by an Israeli court in 2004 to multiple life sentences for planning dozens of deadly terrorist attacks. Hamouri is a terrorist for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group who was arrested by Israel in 2005 and imprisoned following his conviction of planning to assassinate the late Israeli rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Hamouri, who is a French citizen, was released in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whom Hamas abducted in 2006. But he was arrested again, allegedly for violating the terms of his release by continuing to plan terrorist activities.
Meanwhile, Dutch police released from custody a 29-year-old Palestinian who on Thursday smashed the windows of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam’s south while waving a Palestinian flag. He will be tried on Dec. 20 for vandalism and for theft of the restaurant’s Israeli flag.