Canadian Jewish centres under watch in wake of Gaza-Israel violence

The Sons of Jacob synagogue on Victoria Avenue in Belleville, ON.



TORONTO — Police and security officials across the country are increasing patrols and surveillance at Jewish centres after renewed aerial bombardments on Israel, B'nai Brith Canada announced.

There have been no reports of violence in Canada, but with tempers flaring at demonstrations and Israel's cabinet on Friday authorizing up to 75,000 reservists being mobilized as a possible precursor to a Gaza invasion, leaders fear domestic retaliation.

"Stop the killing in Palestine" was repeatedly chanted Thursday by a pro-Palestinian crowd across from the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto.

Some protesters carried signs that read: "Jews against Israel's war crimes.” One speaker, who had just come back from Gaza, denounced the "Israeli war machine."

Flag-waving Jewish Defence League members loudly replied: "Stop the bombing, stop the hate," and called for the destruction of Hamas.

JDL spokesman Meir Weinstein reminded defenders that Canada and the U.S. regard the military arm of Hamas, the political party that governs the Gaza Strip, as a terrorist organization.

The rally was staged one day after Israeli's military killed top Islamist military leader Ahmed al-Jaabari, followed by Hamas firing reciprocal rockets.

B'nai Brith said in its press release that it "has been in contact with police and security officials across Canada to assess security implications for the Jewish community as the attacks on the Jewish state continue to intensify and Israel's defensive response is underway.

"Our contacts have confirmed that Jewish community buildings will continue to be given heightened security status by police," the group stated. "There will be increased police patrols of community buildings and synagogues."

Greater Toronto Area synagogues and Jewish graveyards have been previously vandalized and armed Toronto cops have mounted armed patrols.

In 2004, paid-duty officers carrying rifles were stationed outside Knesseth Israel Synagogue — the city's oldest synagogue —  for routine safety reasons during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a Canadian Jewish Congress spokesman said.

Security was also increased Friday in France, with armed officers stationed outside synagogues.

B'Nai Brith urged community leaders to ensure security measures are working and that "all suspicious activities of any kind be reported to police in a timely fashion so that the situation can be assessed on an ongoing basis."

Its spokesman did not respond later to interview requests.

B'Nai Brith is the Canadian arm of an international organisation aimed at promoting the wellbeing of Jewish people and fighting anti- Semitism.

The group's community anti-hate hotline is 1-800-892-2624.

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