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Elderly French Jewish Man Attacked in Apartment by Antisemitic Assailants

The first details have emerged of the terrifying ordeal of a 70-year-old Jewish man in Paris who was beaten, robbed and tied to a chair in his own apartment by antisemitic intruders last week who remain at large.

Two  hooded assailants armed with a handgun carried out the attack on Dec. 1, according to a statement on Tuesday from the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism (BNVCA), a Paris-based organization that represents victims of antisemitic violence in France.

According to the victim’s account, one of the two assailants was of Arab origin, while the second was of African origin. After banging on the door of the victim’s apartment with their fists before they forced their way in. The assailants rained blows on their victim and then pointed the gun at his temple.

One of the assailants then asked the victim whether he was a “jeweler and a Jew.” The victim replied that while he was not a jeweler, he was indeed a Jew. The assailants then pushed the victim into a chair, asking him repeatedly where the “gold” was kept and warning that if he attempted to raise himself from the chair, “I’ll put a bullet in your head.”

One of the assailants struck the victim’s face with the handgun, leaving him badly bruised and bloodied. After their search for cash and valuables yielded a sum of 250 euros — about $280 — the two assailants tied the victim to his chair with masking tape and then fled. The victim managed to telephone his wife for help. After emergency services arrived, he received treatment for his injuries at a local hospital and was reported to be experiencing “severe pain” in his right eye as a result of one of the blows to his head.

The BNVCA said it had urged local police “to do everything possible to identify the perpetrators of this antisemitic crime and bring them to justice.” The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a formal investigation into the attack on the charges of kidnapping and aggravated theft. A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office told the LCI news outlet on Wednesday that the investigation will examine “in particular the antisemitic nature of the facts.”

There have been several instances of vulnerable Jews in France being targeted for home invasions and robberies in recent years. In 2017, Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old pensioner, was murdered in her own home by an Islamist intruder, while in 2018, Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, was stabbed 11 times in her apartment before her body was set alight.

“For several years, we have observed that Jews are increasingly being attacked in their own homes,” the BNVCA statement commented. The group added that many Jews in Paris, including the victim of last Wednesday’s attack, had expressed a desire to leave the neighborhoods where they presently reside because of the growing risk of antisemitic violence.