Investigation launched by Montreal police into gunshots at Jewish schools

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Police in Montreal are investigating possible hate crimes after two Jewish schools in the city were hit with gunshots overnight.

Bullet holes were found on the doors of both schools on Thursday morning, police said, along with bullet casings.

No one was in the buildings at the time of the shooting and no one was injured.

The incidents have shaken Montreal’s Jewish community, who say they are concerned about a rise in hate crimes amid the Israel-Gaza war.

“The Jewish community, with close to 300 years of history in Quebec, is under attack,” Yair Szlak, head of Montreal-based Jewish organisation Federation CJA, said at a news conference on Thursday.

The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) said they have not found graffiti or messages left behind by the perpetrators, but they are “not closing the doors at this point on a hate crime situation.”

One mother told the Globe and Mail that she pulled her daughter out of class early at one of the schools because she was worried her child would be scared.

“This is a kids’ school, it’s too much,” Megan Saleh said.

The shootings come after a synagogue and a Jewish centre run by Federation CJA in Montreal’s West Island were hit with firebombs. No one was injured in those incidents, which also happened at night.

Eta Yudin, the vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Quebec, said the firebombings are a result of “an importation” of the conflict unfolding in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.

“We see actions and words in the streets of Montreal targeting the Jewish community. These are not our Quebec values,” Mr Yudin said.

The incidents prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to issue a statement on Tuesday that “antisemitism is completely unacceptable and must always be condemned.”

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, responding to the shootings, warned perpetrators that they will be prosecuted and that “every violent and hateful event will be investigated” by police.

“You will answer for your actions,” Ms Plante said.

Montreal police reported 74 hate crimes and incidents targeting the Jewish community between 7 October, when the war between Israel and Hamas began, and 7 November.

Police said they are also investigating 25 hate crimes and incidents against the Muslim community reported in that same period.

Some arrests have been made in those cases, they said.

The police, who are increasing their presence at places of worship, are “appealing for calm”, said Vincent Richer, Deputy Director of the Montreal police force.

Police in other cities across Canada, including Toronto and Vancouver, have also reported a rise in hate crimes.

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