Two unidentified assailants hurled hand grenades Sunday at Istanbul’s Neve Shalom Synagogue, slightly injuring a blind man in the vicinity, according to reports from Turkey.
One of the attackers was captured, reportedly by passersby, and another got away.
There was not damage to the synagogue, which was the target of a terrorist attack in September 1986.
In that incident, two disguised Arabs believed to have been members of the Abu Nidal terrorist group sprayed machine-gun fire and detonated grenades, killing 22 Sabbath worshippers and themselves.
No group affiliation or motive has yet been claimed for Sunday’s attack, which took place just before a delegation from the World Sephardi Federation arrived in the country for a two-day visit to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Sephardic Jews in Turkey.
The police chief in Istanbul confirmed that one of the assailants was captured, “but declined to make any comment about his whereabouts or identity,” said Sammy Cohen, a journalist in Istanbul, who was reached by telephone.
Turkish police normally do not comment on incidents of this type until initial investigations are completed, Cohen explained.
Since the 1986 attack, the worst-ever on Jews in Turkey, the synagogue has been “very heavily guarded,” Cohen said.
It was “thanks to the measures since then that nothing has happened to the temple itself,” he said.
WINDOW SHATTERED NEARBY
One of the two grenades thrown exploded in front of the synagogue, but there was no damage. Cohen described the man who was slightly injured as a blind passerby who was hit by flying glass from a nearby shop window, which shattered from the force of the grenade explosion.
Cohen described the man’s light wounds as facial, although another report said the man sustained a foot injury.
The Anatolian news agency described the wounded person as a blind beggar named Mordi Yendi.
The attack was described as “an assault not only on Jews but on the values and standards of civilization itself,” by Andre Sassoon, co-president of the International Jewish Committee for Sepharad ’92, which was formed to commemorate the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 and their resettlement in other countries.
Sassoon recalled the warm welcome given the Jews “exactly 500 years ago by Sultan Bayazit II of the Ottoman Empire.”
“We have every confidence that the leader of the Turkish government, who will be honored Monday in Ankara” by the World Sephardi delegation, “will act swiftly and effectively to bring the criminals to justice — and to intensify their efforts to prevent acts of this kind in the future,” Sassoon said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.