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Mali Incursion Raises Risk to French Jews

France’s military involvement in Mali “significantly increases” the threat facing French Jews, according to the security service of the country’s Jewish communities.

“The situation requires we raise the level of protection around our community and double the level of vigilance around synagogues, Jewish schools, community centers and gathering places,” said a communiqué by SPCJ, which often determines its level of preparedness based on consultations with French authorities.

French ground forces deployed in the capital Bamako last week and began advancing northward on Jan. 15 to engage Islamist rebels in the Saharan former French colony. French President Francois Hollande says the rebels are “terrorists.”

The incursion caused “agitation” in Islamic circles in France, SPCJ said.

SPCJ also listed four anti-Semitic incidents which took place over the past four weeks.

On Jan. 11, a bearded man wearing military-style gear intimidated school children visiting Paris’ main Holocaust memorial. Wielding a knife, he shouted at the children “to leave Palestine alone,” the report said. Police patrols were called to the area but arrived after the man had left.

A similar incident occurred on Dec. 20, SPCJ reported, when a tall, bearded African-French man in his 40s interrupted a memorial service for a deceased Jewish man, and shouted at the 30 people present: “You are on my land and you are going to pay.” The man, who also shouted: Allah hu akbar – “Allah is great” in Arabic – was arrested and released shortly after questioning. He was identified as Traore Issa, SPCJ said.

On Jan. 5, a graffiti which read: “Child killers – Jews to the gas – long live Hitler” – was spray-painted on a building in the French capital’s 12th arrondissement.

Three days earlier, anti-Semitic slogans, death threats against Jews and a swastika were sray-painted on a building in Toulouse, where a March terrorist attack on a Jewish school claimed four lives.

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