An arsonist set fire to a mosque in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna Dec. 25, injuring five people. Some 20 worshippers were attending midday prayers when the fire broke out. Police said the blaze began when assailants hurled an incendiary device through a window of the mosque, on the ground floor of a residential building. The attack comes amid a fierce debate in Sweden over immigration policy. The far right wants to cut the number of asylum-seekers allowed into Sweden by 90%. On Dec. 3, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats brought down the minority governing coalition after it had been in power for just 10 weeks, refusing to support its proposed budget and forcing a special election. The new election is scheduled for March. (BBC News, Al Jazeera, Dec. 15; EurActiv, Dec. 18; Daily Mail, Dec. 3)
Two Palestinians armed with a pistol and axes attacked a synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof district during morning prayers on Nov. 18, killing four Israelis. A police officer later died of his wounds. The two assailants were shot dead. (JP, Nov. 19; Ma'an, Nov. 18) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, but in the same statements reiterated its "demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers." Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and the Popular Resistance Committees all praised the attack. (Ma'an, Nov. 18)
India has opted to buy Israel's Spike anti-tank guided missile, a New Delhi defense ministry source told Reuters—evidently rejecting a rival US offer of Javelin missiles that Washington had lobbied hard to win. India is to purchase at least 8,000 Spike missiles and more than 300 launchers in a deal worth 32 billion rupees ($525 million), the source said after a meeting of India's Defense Acquisition Council. Spike beat out the Javelin weapons system, built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had pitched during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington last month. (Reuters, Oct. 25)
Some 7,000 gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square July 26 in the largest Israeli protest against the bombardment of Gaza thus far. Slogans included "Stop the war," "Bring the soldiers back home," and "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." Several hours before the demonstration was slated to begin, police announced that it was canceled for fear of rocket fire, but it was given the green light when news broke that the ceasefire would be extended. The protest was called by the left-wing Hadash political party and the organizations Combatants for Peace and Parents Circle Families Forum. The more prominent Meretz left-wing party and Peace Now anti-war group opted not to take part in the rally.
The Abravanel synagogue in central Paris is under police guard after more than 100 youths tried to storm the building July 13, chanting "Israel murderer!" The incident—near Bastille Place, on the eve of Bastille Day—followed a march protesting the Israeli air-strikes on Gaza. After the demonstration, a large group headed to the synagogue, where some 150 people had gathered for a memorial service for three Israeli teenagers murdered in the West Bank. Witnesses said the protesters grabbed chairs from a cafe nearby and used them as weapons as they tried to break through a police barrier outside the synagogue, where worshippers remained trapped for several hours. Six police and two members of the Jewish community were reportedly injured, and six protesters arrested. Some protesters were said to be armed with axes and knives. A private security unit employed by the synagogue was also engaged in the fighting. One day earlier, in the Parisian suburb of Belleville, a protest demonstration reportedly featured chants of "Kill the Jews!" The day before that, July 11, a firebomb was thrown at the synagogue of Aulnay-sous-Bois, another Paris suburb, causing damage to the building's facade. The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) reports that on July 8, a, 17-year-old Jewish girl was assaulted on a Paris street near the Gare du Nord train station by a man who blasted her face with pepper spray. The girl, identified by her initials, JL, wrote in her complaint to police that the man shouted: "Dirty Jewess, insh'allah you will die." (The Guardian, EJP, July 14; JTA, July 13)
Violent protests sparked by the abduction and killing of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khudair in East Jerusalem spread to Arab villages in Israel on July 5. Palestinians overwhelmingly believe he was abducted and killed by far-right Jews as a "price tag" reprisal for the slaying of the three Israeli youths, and Palestinian Attorney General Mohammed al-A'wewy said preliminary results from the autopsy (carried out by Israeli doctors) indicated he had been burned alive. Israeli authorities have remained silent on the investigation, still refusing to recognize it as a hate crime, although six Jewish suspects were arrested July 6. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said: "These debased murderers don't represent the Jewish people or its values, and they must be treated as terrorists." At Khudair's funeral on Friday July 4, Palestinians chanted "Intifada! Intifada!" Stones thrown at Israeli police were met with tear-gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. At least one Palestinian was reported hurt in confrontations in Nablus. Palestinian officials said they would try to prevent a new intifada, but angry protests erupted even in usually calm Arab areas of Israel, with youth throwing stones and firebombs at passing cars. Dozens have been arrested in the clashes.
Doctors in Israel are refusing to back proposed legislation that would allow Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to be force-fed. The bill, proposed by the Home Front Defense Ministry, comes as at least 65 of the 290 striking detainees have been hospitalized since they stopped eating on April 24. The legislation would empower judges to sanction force-feeding if a detainee's life is perceived to be in danger. But the Israel Medical Association is urging physicians not to cooperate in the practice. "It goes against the DNA of the doctors to force treatment on a patient," said the IMA's Ziva Miral. "Force-feeding is torture, and we can't have doctors participating in torture."
A startling report on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Feb. 28 tells of a "Jewish-led militia force" that participated in the Ukrainian revolution—called the "Blue Helmets of Maidan" even though their helmets are (tellingly) brown, and under the command of a Ukraine-born veteran of the Israel Defense Forces who goes by the nom de guerre "Delta." In an interview, Delta boasted how he used combat skills gained in the Shu'alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the IDF's Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev's street fighters. He now heads a force of 40 men and women—including several fellow IDF veterans—that clashed with government troops in the street-fighting that brought down Viktor Yanukovich. Most bizarrely, Delta said he takes orders from activists linked to Svoboda, the ultra-nationalist party that is widely accused of anti-Semitism. "I don’t belong [to Svoboda], but I take orders from their team," he said. "They know I'm Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me 'brother.' What they're saying about Svoboda is exaggerated, I know this for a fact."