(JTA) – A 15-year-old boy allegedly assaulted a kippah-wearing Jewish man in Marseille with a machete, causing the victim minor injuries.
The suspected assailant was arrested shortly after the daylight attack Monday in the port city in southern France, the French news agency AFP reported. The victim, a man reportedly in his 30s identified only as Benjamin A., suffered wounds to his back and an arm.
According to the French Jewish news website alyaexpress-news.com, he was attacked on his way to the Dvar Avraham synagogue. Witnesses said the alleged assailant shouted “Allah is the greatest” in Arabic before the attack.
The victim used a Torah book as a shield, according to the website, which carried a photo of the blood-stained book with its leather binding deeply cut. The attacker dropped the knife as he fled the scene and was arrested shortly afterward.
According to the AFP report, the teen was “probably mentally ill,” citing an unnamed police source who said he was arrested while mumbling incoherently. But Hagay Sobol, a regional alderman for the Socialist Party and vice-president of Marseille’s Edmond Fleg Jewish Community Centre, disputed the assertion.
“The insanity excuse doesn’t hold, it’s one of the strategies recommended by Daesh online,” he wrote on Twitter, using the name applied in France to the Islamic State terrorist group.
In November, three men, one of them wearing a T-shirt with the Islamic State logo, participated in the stabbing of a Jewish man in Marseille, causing him moderate injuries.
The previous month, a man who initially was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial was arrested for stabbing a Jewish man and assaulting two others. He was eventually tried and given a four-year sentence following an outcry among French Jews who demanded the decision not to prosecute him be reviewed and altered, citing victims’ testimonies on his behaviour and the absence of signs of mental illness in his past.