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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Detentions after Jewish attacks
Jewish school bus found burnt in a car park
There has been a string of attacks on Jewish property
French police have detained five youths for questioning after firebombs were thrown at a synagogue just outside Paris, the sixth Jewish religious site to be attacked in France since last weekend.

Montpellier synagogue
The assailants missed their target in Montpellier too
The building in the southeast suburb of Le Kremlin-Bicetre was not damaged as the assailants apparently missed their target.

Police say they have not yet established whether those being questioned were involved in the attempted attack.

There has been a series of attacks on Jewish property since last Saturday. Officials believe they are linked to the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Jewish groups have called for a mass rally on Sunday to protest against anti-Semitic violence, and to show support for Israeli military action in the Palestinian territories.

The killings of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army are believed to have stoked hostility towards Jews among France's four million-strong Muslim population.

Heated debate was reported within the Jewish community about whether to make support of Israel's current actions in the West Bank a part of Sunday's demonstration.

Some Jews felt it would alienate those who condemn anti-Semitism but also Israel's current behaviour.

Missed

The attacks started last weekend, during which a synagogue in Marseille was burnt to the ground, and two others damaged in separate fires.

On Tuesday, a Jewish prayer house in the city of Strasbourg was partially destroyed when unknown assailants set fire to its wooden doors, while on Wednesday night, two Jewish school buses were set alight and destroyed in Paris.

On Thursday morning, molotov cocktails were thrown into a building which houses a synagogue in the city of Montpellier, but again the assailants missed their target.

The attacks have been condemned by French political leaders, but senior Jews have accused them of failing to curb what they see as a rising tide of anti-Semitism which has increased with the Israeli action in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has urged people not to allow the kind of tensions between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East to be replicated in France, home to some 700,000 Jews and four million Muslims.

French Jewish leaders like Moishe Cohen have spoken of a concerted "plan" to strike at the heart of the French Jewish community.

But local authorities say some of the attacks appear to be the work of unorganised amateurs.

"It was probably an act by young delinquents," said Prefect Daniel Constantin of Thursday's attack in Montpellier. "Visibly there was no preparation."

See also:

03 Apr 02 | Europe
French Jews fear more violence
01 Apr 02 | Europe
French Jews demand protection
16 Oct 00 | Europe
French Jews accuse North Africans
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