France vows a 'merciless fight' against antisemitism after anti-Jewish graffiti is found in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday vowed a “merciless fight” against surging antisemitism after residents of the French capital discovered anti-Jewish graffiti on buildings in several districts.

The discovery comes weeks into the Israel-Hamas war in which thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have been killed and hundreds of Israelis have been taken hostage by the militants in Gaza.

“The situation in the Middle East does not justify antisemitism,” Borne told the National Assembly during a regular questioning session. “Nothing ever excuses antisemitism ... my government is determined to wage a merciless fight against it."

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, French authorities have registered 857 antisemitic acts, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Tuesday. “That's as many acts of antisemitism in three weeks as there have been so far this year,” he said.

Darmanin said police and judicial authorities have opened several investigations into the anti-Jewish graffiti around the capital and vowed to Jewish communities around France that “we will protect you, absolutely, completely, day and night.”

The graffiti included a blue Star of David stamped on several buildings around the capital.

“I am crying because I am going to again feel the hatred that was there when we were children,” a tearful resident of a graffiti-tagged building who gave only her first name, Marie, told BFM-TV.

Carine Petit, the mayor of Paris's 14th district, reminded residents that such tags trigger painful memories.

"This act of marking (buildings) is reminiscent of the acts in the (19)30s and the Second World War, which led to the extermination of millions of Jews,” Petit said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter.