Palestinian jailed in Switzerland for assault on Jewish man wearing kippah
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Palestinian jailed in Switzerland for assault on Jewish man wearing kippah

The Bernini line of Switerzland’s Rhaetian railway. (Hansueli Krapf/Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — A Palestinian man who assaulted a Jewish man wearing a kippah on a train in Switzerland was sentenced to four months in prison but was not convicted of a hate crime.

The incident occurred in February aboard a train near Lausanne, the German-language 20 Minuten news website reported Monday. It had not been reported in major Swiss media prior to this week.

The 40-year-old assailant was identified only as Mohammed, a Gaza native with multiple drug-related convictions, and his victim was identified as Israel. Mohammed stole Israel’s watch, broke his glasses and proceeded to hit the Jewish man all over his body. He told Israel that he’d like to slit his throat, according to witnesses.

Mohammed also took Israel’s water bottle, book and kippah, throwing the head covering in a trash bin.

Johanne Gurfinkiel, the secretary-general of the CICAD watchdog group on anti-Semitism in Switzerland, said the details of the case suggest that Mohammed singled out his victim, identified as Israel, because he was visibly Jewish. Yet Mohammed’s conviction, which was handed down last month, did not reference a hate crime as an aggravated element in the assault.

The 20 Minuten report did not say whether Mohammed indicated his motivation for assaulting Israel.

“I do not understand how the anti-Semitic character of this affair was not referenced even though it is clearly visible,” Gurfinkiel said.

In neighboring France and elsewhere in Western Europe, Jewish organizations and watchdog groups have criticized their judiciaries and authorities for what those critics considered mislabeling and ignoring of anti-Semitic hate crimes.