French police discovered the charred body of a Holocaust survivor covered with stab wounds after a fire broke out in her Paris apartment on Friday. The local Jewish community fears the murder was motivated by anti-Semitism, reported Israel Hayom.
Forensic teams worked over the weekend to gather evidence in an investigation that French government officials are following closely, due to the sensitivity of the incident.
The fire was reportedly lit at five different points in the apartment, pointing to arson.
On Monday, French authorities said that two suspects had been taken into custody, and that they are planning to charge them with premeditated murder of a vulnerable person for anti-Semitic motives.
They will face charges of “murder related to the victim’s religion, real or imagined,” said a French judicial source, according to AFP.
Sources in the Jewish community said Knoll had previously complained about threats from her Muslim neighbor, saying he had even threatened to burn her.
Prominent figures in the French Jewish community say that while the incident was not widely reported as such in local media, it was undoubtedly an anti-Semitic attack.
“For the Jews of France, the nightmare continues. While France is still reeling from trauma after the terrorist attack in Trèbes, we discover today the shocking murder last Friday of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor,” French MP Meyer Habib, who represents France’s overseas constituency, including in Israel, said on Sunday.
During a visit to Israel, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the attack was likely anti-Semitism.
“I had a very moving and difficult moment when I had just concluded my visit to Yad Vashem. I heard about the outrageous murder of Mirelle Kanolin—a Holocaust survivor—in Paris,” he said. “We cannot yet say if the motive for the murder was anti-Semitism. But it is reasonable to assume, it will not be surprising and, therefore, this only strengthens the fact that this struggle has not ended, and that we will need to continue fighting against anti-Semitism.”