(JTA) — Dozens of young men protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza briefly besieged a Paris synagogue and clashed with security.
At least three Jews were taken to the hospital as a result of the clashes that erupted Sunday between the protesters and young Jewish men who guarded the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue in Paris, a witness told JTA.
“The attackers splintered off an anti-Israel demonstration and advanced toward the synagogue when it was full,” Alain Azria, a French Jewish journalist who covered the event told JTA.
Azria said that when the demonstrators arrived at the central Paris synagogue, the five police officers on guard blocked the entrance as the protesters chanted anti-Semitic slogans and hurled objects at the synagogue and the guards. He said nearly 200 congregants were inside.
“They were determined to enter and the police did not have enough forces,” he said.
Azria said the mob was kept away by men from the SPCJ Jewish security unit, the Jewish Defense League and Beitar, who engaged the attackers in what turned into a street brawl.
“Thank God they were there because the protesters had murder on their minds and it took awhile before police reinforcements arrived,” he added.
The synagogue attack followed several anti-Semitic incidents that coincided with Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which began on July 8.
In one attack in Belleville north of the French capital, a firebomb was hurled at a synagogue, causing minor damage. In another attack, a man pepper-sprayed the face of a 17-year-old girl.