Stabbing incidents occurred in France and China Friday after Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” as Israel readies for potential military action in the Gaza Strip in response to last Saturday’s attacks that killed hundreds and injured thousands of civilians.
In northern France, a man of Chechen origin stabbed a teacher and wounded three others at his former high school, which authorities are investigating as terrorism.
The attacker, known to French authorities as a potential Islamic radicalization, shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” in Arabic, during the assault at the Gambetta School in the northwestern city of Arras about 155 miles from Paris.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said there is “no doubt” the attack is linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to BBC.
Police officer Sliman Hamzi was among the first to respond to the scene of the attack in France, The Associated Press reports. He described it as a “horrible thing to see this poor man who was killed on the job by a lunatic.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said his country had been “hit once again by the barbarity of Islamist terrorism.”
The victim, Dominique Bernard, was a French language teacher at the school.
President Macron said Bernard “stepped in and probably saved many lives.”
The suspect, Mohammed Moguchkov, has been arrested. A police source told AFP that Moguchkov, 20, is on a national register called “Fiche S,” indicating that he was a possible security threat. He was being electronically and physically surveilled by the French intelligence agency DGSI.
Moguchkov was questioned by authorities on Thursday but was let go because he was not considered to be an immediate threat, The New York Times notes.
On Saturday, France announced it would deploy up to 7,000 soldiers to increase security nationwide. A spokesperson for the Louvre, the world’s largest museum, told AFP it had “received a written message stating that there was a risk to the museum and its visitors.”
In Beijing, an Israeli embassy worker was attacked, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Video footage showed the assailant repeatedly stabbing the man in front of a supermarket, The Times of Israel reported, adding that the victim is being treated at a hospital and is in stable condition.
Security footage showed the attacker fleeing the scene, weapon in hand. Beijing security personnel began immediate questioning of people in the vicinity. No additional policing was visible outside the Israeli embassy in northeast Beijing.
According to AP, Beijing police arrested a 53-year-old foreign man and it is not immediately clear if the crime was connected to Hamas.
Hamas had called for a “Day of Rage” Friday, urging its supporters worldwide to “attack Israelis and Jews,” according to the Israel National Security Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Major pro-Palestinian protests erupted in the capitals of Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Lebanon.
Those assembled at these protests were seen waving Palestinian flags.
In Baghdad, Iraq, a rally attracted tens of thousands of participants, according to ABC News.
In Beirut, Lebanon, a rally organized by Hezbollah drew at least a couple of thousand supporters. The crowd reportedly chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” while Hezbollah leaders pledged solidarity with Hamas and denounced Israel.
In Iran, some demonstrators were observed burning Israeli and American flags.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement warning that the protests “are liable to turn violent.”
In France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish communities, Interior Minister Darmanin issued a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations, AFP reports.
The order came as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Paris.
The attack in France has drawn parallels with the beheading of another teacher, Samuel Paty, nearly three years ago by a radicalized Chechen. Both assailants had Chechen backgrounds and were closely watched by French intelligence services.
The incidents occurred against the backdrop of ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas, which began after Hamas suddenly attacked Israel last Saturday. The Hamas attacks on Israeli settlements near the Gaza border killed over 1,300 people, mostly civilians. Survivors of those attacks have shared their accounts of the attacks on their settlements.
In Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry reported 1,537 Palestinians have been killed and another 6,612 wounded in Israeli airstrikes, though no distinction has been made between civilians and militant deaths. Israel contends that its airstrikes have targeted Hamas military infrastructure and areas where its militants hide. Israel also claims that over 1,500 Hamas fighters have been killed in Israel since Saturday.
Ahead of a potential offensive against Hamas, Israel called on over 1 million people residing north of Wadi Gaza in the north Gaza Strip to evacuate to southern Gaza within 24 hours on Friday.
The evacuation order has drawn scrutiny from the United Nations, which warned that such a military campaign can’t happen “without devastating humanitarian consequences” and “could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”
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