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Gunshots at Montreal Jewish schools as McGill U braces for a pro-Palestinian rally advertised with images of broken glass

The gunshots were fired in the early hours of Thursday morning when the schools were empty

A gunman fired at two Montreal Jewish schools overnight Wednesday and organizers of McGill University event to mark the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht have expressed concern that a planned pro-Palestinian protest on campus that day will endanger Jewish students and other participants. 

The incidents at Yeshiva Gedolah Of Montreal, an Orthodox educational school, and United Talmud Torahs of Montreal, a Jewish elementary school, occurred in the early morning hours and were reported to the police in the morning. The schools were empty at the time and no injuries were reported.

According to a Hamodia, a New York-based Orthodox daily, surveillance footage outside the yeshiva captured the suspect wielding a handgun outside the building and shooting through a metal door. The shots hit a marble wall about 40 feet inside the building. The door of the elementary school, located nearby, also had a bullet hole. 

Rabbi Menachem M. Karmel, the principal of the yeshiva, reassured the school community in a letter Thursday morning that there was no need for panic. He said local officials and patrol groups “are exercising their fullest power to deal with this situation” and “ensuring that a plan is set into place for the continued safety and security” of its students. 

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a local Jewish advocacy group, said the incidents are adding stress and anxiety for members of the Jewish community and it “cannot be understated.” 

More antisemitic incidents in Montreal

The shootings come amid a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents around the world following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ongoing military campaign in the Gaza Strip. Montreal has been the setting of several in addition to the gunfire at the yeshivas.

Earlier this week, molotov cocktails were reportedly thrown at a local synagogue and daycare center. On Wednesday, three people were lightly injured during an altercation between Jewish and pro-Palestinian students at Concordia University in downtown Montreal. A 22-year-old student was arrested for assault. Concordia University said it was also investigating an online threat and swastikas discovered on campus.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in on the incidents during an unrelated event on Thursday. “For me, violence and hate, antisemitism and scenes such as the ones that we saw at Concordia University or shots fired at Jewish schools overnight, all of that is unacceptable, and it’s also not who we are,” Trudeau said.

At McGill, Deep Saini, its principal and vice-chancellor, called posters promoting a pro-Palestinian rally “antisemitic” in a message to students. The rally, described by promoters as a “national day of shutdown” in solidarity with Gazans, featured an image of individuals kicking and breaking glass windows. 

“Publicizing an event through allusions to destruction of property is troubling,” Saini said. “Far worse is using an image of people breaking glass to encourage participation in an event planned for Nov. 9, the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a series of violent attacks in Nazi Germany that saw mobs smash the windows of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses.”

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