Two Montreal Jewish schools hit by gunshots, police say, nobody injured
The Canadian PressNews
By Jacob Serebrin in Montreal
Montreal police say two Jewish schools were hit overnight by gunshots, in what seems to be the latest violent event in the city in connection with the war between Israel and Hamas.
Staff members discovered bullet holes on the exterior of the buildings when they arrived Thursday morning. Police said nobody was inside at the time of the shootings.
A small hole was visible in a first-floor window of Talmud Torah Elementary School, in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood; a piece of tape covered what appeared to be another hole in the door.
Outside, Megan Saleh said she had pulled her daughter out of class early. Saleh said she worried her child would be scared because many other students had also been taken home on Thursday.
“I think that the antisemitism that’s growing is awful, and bigger organizations — government, schools, universities — they need to condemn violence of all forms,” she said. “This is a kids school, it’s too much.”
Police spokesman Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant said officers were called to Talmud Torah around 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning, before they were called about 30 minutes later to another school nearby, Yeshiva Gedola of Montreal, which has a daycare, elementary and high school, as well as post-secondary programs.
Reacting to the shootings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in the Montreal suburb of Longueuil that Canadians must denounce violent antisemitism in the strongest terms.
“While this conflict and crisis rages in the Middle East, Canadians have an opportunity and, therefore, a responsibility to be there for each other,” he said. “Not to necessarily agree — our diversity includes diversity of perspectives and opinions — but not to hate, not to lash out with threats of violence, or actual violence against someone you disagree with.”
The prime minister also condemned the violent incidents at Montreal’s Concordia University, where on Wednesday three people were injured and one person was arrested in an altercation tied to the Israel-Hamas war.
Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters at the same news conference that what happened to the two Jewish schools cannot be tolerated; he also denounced the violence at Concordia. Legault called on police forces to act: “We don’t want hate and violence in Quebec, and we won’t tolerate this.”
“I know that we are seeing horrible scenes on television,” Legault said, referring to images of the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion into Israel that killed about 1,400 people — most of them civilians — and of Israel’s retaliatory strikes on the Palestinian Gaza Strip that have killed more than 10,500 people, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
Asked if he would ban certain protests linked to the conflict, Legault said nothing has been ruled out. “What I hope is that people will continue to be able to express their opinion, but without calling for hate or violence.”
On Wednesday night, Concordia University president Graham Carr condemned what he said were three separate acts of violence or intimidation at the school earlier that day. He said two security guards and a student were injured in an altercation, swastikas were found on a university building, and a student group published a social media post that could be interpreted as inciting violence.
“Under no circumstances can we, as a community, tolerate the reprehensible acts of hate and violence that occurred today,” Carr wrote.
In an email, Concordia spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci said university security called police to clear pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators from a downtown building after a guard was injured and school officials feared for the safety of the people there.
“It is still early but the process of identifying and bringing those responsible to account for their behaviour has started,” she said Thursday. The demonstration involved Concordia students and people from outside the university community, she added.
“We have started looking at what other measures could be put in place, if needed, to ensure the safety of our community and of our campus,” she said. “We are also worried about the presence of people from outside Concordia yesterday and saddened that they would abuse the privileged place that Concordia is as an open university.”
Videos of the events at the university shared on social media show people fighting over an Israeli flag; other footage shows pro-Palestinian activists yelling insults at Israel supporters.
A pro-Palestinian student group — Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights Concordia — said a fundraiser was disrupted by pro-Israel protesters, while the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs claimed that Jewish students were targeted “with intimidation, threats and physical aggression” after they attempted to “raise awareness” about hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas Oct. 7.
Montreal police say a 22-year-old woman was arrested at the university in connection with the altercation and released with a citation. Brabant said the security guards and student were not seriously injured and that police are continuing to investigate.
Earlier this week in a Montreal suburb, a synagogue and an office belonging to a Jewish advocacy organization were hit by firebombs. No one was injured in that incident.
— With files from Thomas MacDonald in Montreal
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2023.
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