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Suspect arrested in firebomb attack on German synagogue

BERLIN (JTA) — A suspect has been arrested in an attempted arson attack on a German synagogue.

A neighbor of the New Wuppertal Synagogue in the former West German state of North Rhine-Westphalia called police at about  2 a.m. on Tuesday to report burning objects in the street next to the synagogue, according to German news reports. Three men reportedly threw Molotov cocktails at the synagogue, which was dedicated in 2002.

WDR broadcast news reported that an 18-year-old man was arrested nearby. Police did not reveal further information about the one apprehended suspect, but according to Reuters the man told authorities he is Palestinian.

There were no injuries but traces of a flammable liquid were found around the building.

A local group, the Palestinian Friendship Association, distanced itself from the incident which it condemned  “profoundly.” Association spokesperson Ismail Karsoua said such acts are counterproductive to political discussion, WDR reported.

In related news, police in the city of Essen, also in North Rhine-Westphalia, last week received a tip that an attack on the city’s Old Synagogue had been announced on Facebook for 3 a.m. on July 24. Police arrested three men at the scene at 1 a.m. that day, after they rolled down the window of their car and threatened, “We’ll see you later.” The men were later released.

Former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Charlotte Knobloch told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper  Tuesday that the atmosphere in Germany has become increasingly threatening to Jews and that they should hide their Jewish identity.

Knobloch, who also serves as head of the Munich Jewish community and Bavarian Jewish Organization, said she has received a flood of phone calls and e-mails filled with insults and hate speech.

Regarding the the synagogue arson attack, Knobloch said,”it’s high time for all those in positions of responsibility to ask: What must we do to protect Jewish citizens?”

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