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Historic synagogue in Tunisia heavily damaged in rioting tied to Israel-Gaza war

(JTA) – A historic but defunct synagogue in Tunisia was reduced to rubble on Tuesday amid mass rioting after an explosion in Gaza that Hamas blamed on Israel.

Hundreds of people were filmed setting fire to a synagogue in the central Tunisian city of Al Hammah in the hours after the explosion, at a Gaza City hospital where Hamas said many people died. Videos that circulated widely on social media showed people planting Palestinian flags and chipping away at the synagogue building’s stone walls, all without any police intervention.

Some users shared the video of the arson alongside a “#Palestine” hashtag. A video taken Wednesday shows heavy damage to the site, including to the fenced-off grave of a 16th-century rabbi that been a historic pilgrimage site for some Jews.

Images de la destruction de la synagogue filmées ce matin à El Hamma pic.twitter.com/NmO8Iah3ir

— Joseph Hirsch (@josephhirsch5) October 18, 2023

The incident, which has deprived Al Hammah of a key vestige of its Jewish past, comes amid attacks on other Jewish and Israeli sites around the world — including Germany, France, Portugal, China, and Australia — as Israel retaliates in the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ sweeping, deadly attack on Israel Oct. 7.

Protests against Israel ramped up Tuesday night after the hospital explosion. Dozens of rioters targeted the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan. Riots also broke out in Palestinian areas of the West Bank, Hebrew media reported.

Israeli and U.S. officials said they believed with near certainty that the blast was caused by an errant rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Al Hammah synagogue was not an active site of worship, as no Jews live in the city; however, it is the site of the tomb of 16th-century Kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Ma’aravi. The same site was previously damaged during the 2011 Arab Spring protests, which were not about Israel.

The American Jewish Committee denounced the vandalism in a statement.

“We are horrified by the burning and destruction of the Al Hammah synagogue in Tunisia,” the group said on X, adding that it was “closely monitoring the situation” and in touch with Tunisian Jewish community leaders.

Tunisia’s small Jewish population of around 1,000 also contended with a deadly terrorist attack earlier this year when a gunman stormed a synagogue on the island of Djerba. Five people died, including two Jewish pilgrims who had traveled to the area from Israel and France, and wounding several others.

In response to the Djerba attack, Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, pledged he would increase security for the country’s Jewish residents. Saied also drew criticism for using the occasion of the attack to criticize Israel.

Since the latest explosion of violence in Israel and Gaza, Tunisians have taken to the streets in large numbers to support Palestinians. Tunisian schoolchildren have saluted the Palestinian flag, and Saied has pledged to stand by Palestinians while continuing to snuff out any talk of normalization with Israel, a path that four Arab countries took in 2020.


The post Historic synagogue in Tunisia heavily damaged in rioting tied to Israel-Gaza war appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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UN Committee Says Not Enough Evidence to Declare a Famine in Gaza

Egyptian trucks carrying humanitarian aid make their way to the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel, May 30, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The United Nations Famine Review Committee (FRC), a panel of experts in international food security and nutrition, has cast doubt on the notion that the northern Gaza Strip is suffering through a famine.

In a report released earlier this month, the committee responded to a claim by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) — a US-created provider of warning and analysis on food insecurity — that a famine was likely underway in northern Gaza. FEWS NET said that northern Gaza began experiencing famine in April and projected that the embattled enclave would endure famine until at least July 31.

The FRC rejected the assertion that northern Gaza is experiencing famine, citing the “uncertainty and lack of convergence of the supporting evidence employed in the analysis.” The panel carries out evaluations of humanitarian conditions on behalf of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), an international famine monitoring initiative. 

The FRC added that there is not sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of a famine within northern Gaza and called for more humanitarian access into the warzone, providing experts an opportunity to give an accurate assessment of the conditions. 

“The very fact that we are unable to endorse (or not) FEWS NET’s analysis is driven by the lack of essential up-to-date data on human well-being in northern Gaza, and Gaza at large,” the report stated. “Thus, the FRC strongly requests all parties to enable humanitarian access in general, and specifically to provide a window of opportunity to conduct field surveys in northern Gaza to have more solid evidence of the food consumption, nutrition, and mortality situation.”

However, the panel warned that Gaza is still enduring “extreme human suffering” and called for the “complete, safe, unhindered, and sustained” transport of aid into the enclave.

The report represents a course-reversal for the FRC, which claimed that Gaza likely surpassed the “famine thresholds for acute malnutrition” in March. The FRC now contends that civilians in Gaza are experiencing improved humanitarian conditions as a result of increased aid flowing into the war-torn enclave.   

“Since the FRC review conducted in March 2024, there seems to have been a significant increase in the number of food trucks entering northern Gaza,” the report read.

“The FEWS NET analysis acknowledges that humanitarian assistance in the area has increased significantly, finding that caloric availability from humanitarian assistance increased from 9 percent in February to 34 percent  to 36 percent in March and 59 percent to 63 percent in April. The opening of alternative routes to the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, the authorization of commercial truck entry, as well as airdrops, allowed for an increase of food availability,” the report continued.

Several aid agencies, media outlets, and politicians, as well as pro-Palestinian activists, have repeatedly accused Israel of inflicting famine on Palestinians since beginning its military operations in Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people throughout southern Israel. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, accused Israel of using starvation as a “weapon of war.”

Despite these allegations, data produced by the United Nations showed that Israel allowed more than 100 food trucks to enter Gaza per day in March, an increase from the daily average of 70 trucks before the war. Moreover, many trucks transporting aid into Gaza have been hijacked and seized by Hamas terrorists, increasing the difficulty of distributing food to civilians.

The post UN Committee Says Not Enough Evidence to Declare a Famine in Gaza first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hundreds rallied outside Toronto school board offices to protest a racism report that doesn’t mention antisemitism

Hundreds of people filled the lawn in front of the Toronto District School Board (TSDB) to oppose a proposed anti-discrimination policy being voted on by trustees that would include recognizing anti-Palestinian racism—while failing to acknowledge rising antisemitism in schools. The report, entitled Combating Hate and Racism: Student Learning Strategy, was received without any amendments by […]

The post Hundreds rallied outside Toronto school board offices to protest a racism report that doesn’t mention antisemitism appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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French President Denounces ‘Scourge of Antisemitism’ After 12-Year-Old Jewish Girl Raped

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference in Paris, France, June 12, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday denounced the “scourge of antisemitism” and called on schools to hold discussions on racism and hatred of Jews after three boys were charged with raping a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a Paris suburb.

The young girl told police that she was approached by three boys who raped and beat her in the northwestern Paris suburb of Courbevoie on Saturday in an incident that French authorities have described as a hate crime. According to French media, the assailants called the victim a “dirty Jew” and uttered other antisemitic remarks during the brutal gang-rape.

A police source told AFP that one of the boys asked the young girl questions about “her Jewish religion” and Israel, citing the child’s statement to investigators.

The boys — two aged 13 and one 12 — were arrested on Monday and indicted on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Macron’s office said the president asked French Education Minister Nicole Belloubet “to organize a discussion in all schools on the fight against antisemitism and racism, to prevent hate speech with serious consequences from infiltrating schools.”

The rape of the unnamed 12-year-old girl has caused outrage throughout France and among the Jewish community.

Elie Korchia, president of France’s Central Israelite Consistory, told BFM TV that the girl was raped “because she is Jewish,” adding, “We have never seen antisemitism that extends so far in all areas of life.”

Courbevoie Mayor Jacques Kossowski echoed that sentiment in a statement released on X/Twitter, saying, “The rape was carried out with antisemitic intent.”

Eric Ciotti, leader of Les Républicains, also condemned the “rise of antisemitism” in France, which he argued was “fueled by the alliance of the far left.” He added that “we must act as a bulwark” against antisemitism.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Rally party, decried the rape on social media. She noted “the explosion of antisemitic acts” in France since Oct. 7.

The recent gang-rape came amid a record surge of antisemitism in France in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Antisemitic outrages rose by over 1,000 percent in the final three months of 2023 compared with the previous year, with over 1,200 incidents reported — greater than the total number of incidents in France for the previous three years combined.

In April, a Jewish woman was beaten and raped in a suburb of Paris as “vengeance for Palestine.”

The post French President Denounces ‘Scourge of Antisemitism’ After 12-Year-Old Jewish Girl Raped first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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