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Vandals target Jewish symbols

Pro-Palestinian protesters march through Antwerp  

MONTPELLIER, France -- Attacks on Jewish communities continued across Europe as tension in the Mideast intensified.

Molotov cocktails were thrown into a building next to a Jewish synagogue in the French coastal town of Montpellier on Thursday -- the latest in a string of strikes in that country against symbols of Jewish life.

In separate incidents in Helsinki, Finland, a synagogue, a Jewish home for the elderly and a Jewish school were evacuated after a bomb threat was issued.

A softly spoken man had phoned the school at 10.15am (0715 GMT) with a warning that a bomb would explode an hour later.

No bomb went off and nobody was injured in either the Finnish or French incidents.

The Finnish police took swift action to clear the area and made a thorough search using sniffer dogs.

France facing anti-Semitic attacks 

Chief Inspector Jouko Asp told The Associated Press that "nothing happened...but we took no chances."

"These things are routine but because of the current international situation we sent in bomb squads."

French officials were playing down the Molotov attack in Montpellier.

Prefect Daniel Constantin blamed "young delinquents" for the attack on the two offices which were badly damaged.

"Visibly, there was no preparation...since they mistook the building."

French Finance Minister, who is himself a Jew, said France was not anti-Semitic but that anti-Semitic acts were being carried out which "must be condemned with particular vigour."

Israel sent more troops and tanks into Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank on Thursday including Nablus. (Full Story)

Israel says its incursion into the West Bank is meant to dismantle Palestinian terrorist networks.

It has besieged the Ramallah office of Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat with tanks and troops since Friday.

The Palestinians say the siege is an act of aggression and have called for the Israeli forces to withdraw.

Pro-Palestinian marches were held in Antwerp on Wednesday where about 2,000 protesters carried flags and banners criticising Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Earlier in the day attackers hurled two Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in the city, causing little damage and no injuries.

Former Rabbi Raphael Perez, right, and a relative arrive at the site of a synagogue fire in Strasbourg  

A synagogue in the capital Brussels on Sunday had been damaged by a firebomb assault.

Belgian police have bolstered security patrols around synagogues amid fears of growing anti-Semitism.

But France has seen the worst reported outbreak of violence.

A bus belonging to a Jewish school in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers was set ablaze on Wednesday, local officials said.

While gasoline bombs were thrown at a synagogue in Marseille on Tuesday, following a similar attack on Sunday in which another synagogue was burnt to the ground. (Full Story)

Over the weekend, attacks on Jewish targets were reported in four different towns and cities.

French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin condemned the attacks.




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