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Jewish mob jailed over 2009 Paris attack on Gaza fundraising event

29th Apr 2016

Elham Asaad Buaras

Six  members of the Jewish Defence League (JDL) were jailed in Paris on March 18 over a “savage gang attack” on attendees at a Gaza fundraiser in 2009. Jason Tibi, Rudy Lalou, Azar Cohen, Maxime Schaffier, Yoia Bensimou, and Yoni Sulman used iron bars, baseball bats and bike chains in the onslaught, in which they assaulted anybody who looked like Arab or Muslim while chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Long live Israel!’

All six men leading JDL members, a notorious group that is proscribed in the US but not in France.
A Parisian court heard how all six had assaulted Hatem Essabbak and Mustapha Belkhir outside a Paris theatre on April, 12, 2009

Other JDL members are said to have fled to Israel to avoid prosecution, while Tibi has admitted serving in the Israeli army while waiting for his case to come to court. At least two of those convicted have since fled to Israel.

A damning verdict reads: “The facts of this case illustrate how the violence was aggravated by victims being targeted because of their race and religion.” Dominique Cochain, Essabbak’s barrister, said: “Normally, this type of case is dealt with within three months. It has to be said that this is a very sensitive issue.”

Essabbak, a 22-year-old singer at the time, was outside the Adyar Theatre, close to the Eiffel Tower. Both were taking part in a fundraiser for surviving families of more than 1,400 Palestinians, including 400 children, killed by Israeli forces during an offensive a few weeks before.

Essabbak was surrounded by the men who used iron bars, bats, bike chains, crash helmets and fists in the “unprovoked lynching”, the court heard. Essabbak said: “I was repeatedly hit in the face, around the head, and on both legs. I then fell to the ground, and was hit again around the head. They carried on until they saw I wasn’t moving.”

Mustapha Belkhir went to help Essabbak but was also brutally assaulted, both men were hospitalised.
Witnesses heard the attackers shouting: “Have this, it’s for Gaza, you dirty Arab”, and “Us Jews are going to f*** you, you dirty race”.

Most of the JDL members had their faces covered, but their mobile phones were later traced to the scene of the attack.

Tibi initially denied involvement in the assualt, but admitted taking part when confronted with evidence. Tibi and Sulman received two-year sentences, while the others were handed sentences of between nine months and a year.Beyond the theatre attack, 27-year-old Tibi has a previous prison conviction for smashing up a Palestinian book shop in Paris, and has been filmed fighting in Marseille.

Cochain told the court: “The evidence is that Mr Tibi has not changed. Videos on Google show that in 2011 he disrupted a pro-Palestine meeting in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, accompanied by JDL members, and wanted to stop debate.

“They were shouting slogans like ‘F*** Palestine’. He was also in Marseille in June 2011 to protest against the Gaza flotilla taking supplies to the blockaded Palestinian territory. His face was covered in blood and he was saying ‘I’m here to protest’, ‘Israel will live, Israel will vanquish’.”

The JDL is regularly involved in attacks on pro-Palestine activists across France.

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