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Montreal restaurant hit with projectiles; owner says it's because he is Jewish

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Montreal police are investigating after a Jewish-owned business in the city's Mile End neighbourhood was hit with projectiles. 

The owner of Falafel Yoni, Yoni Amir, said his staff noticed the damaged windows Wednesday morning and called 911. He believes his restaurant was targeted because he is Jewish.

"We've recently been included in some boycott lists that circulated on the internet, on Instagram, on TikTok, that called for a boycott of businesses that 'support Israel.' We actually very intentionally have never made any political commentary whatsoever. I don't feel as though a restaurant should be a platform for politics so we very intentionally didn't want to polarize anybody or ostracize anybody and thus have never made any political commentary whatsoever," Amir said in an interview.

"I am Jewish. I do happen to have been born in Israel and despite not having made political commentary we did make our way onto this boycott list and it seems as though it has led to this targeting of the business."

Police spokesperson Sabrina Gauthier confirmed the force is investigating after three projectiles were found in storefront windows. She said investigators aren't sure which weapon was used in the attack.

Amir said it could have been an airsoft gun. "It doesn't seem like it was a firearm," he said.

In the months following the Israel-Hamas war, he said people have placed "Free Palestine" stickers on his windows and other stickers making references to "genocide," but this is the first time someone has fired projectiles at his business.

"The message is the same and the intention is pretty clear. I think the idea is to send a message to cause some kind of fear and for lack of a better [word] spread some terror to the business owners or to other businesses that are similar to ours. And by that [I mean] a business that is owned by Jews or in this case an Israeli," he said.

"I think it's unnerving, it's unsettling. I'm upset that it creates that feeling for the staff and the people who actually have to come work here every day to have that kind of hatred or violence or tension brought to their workplace is really unfortunate, unsettling. It's not OK."

Political leaders were quick to condemn the shooting.

City councillor Sonny Moroz described it as "a reminder of humanity's worst moments."

"I call on all governments and civil society to stop this hatred. As a Montreal city councillor, let's condemn these attacks!" he wrote in a post on social media.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also condemned the violence, saying in a post on X that she believes the incident was meant to "intimidate Montreal's Jewish community."

"Antisemitism and violence, whether expressed in images, words or actions, do not represent us and have no place in Montreal. I have every confidence that the [Montreal police] will use all necessary resources to find and arrest the perpetrator of this crime," her post reads.

It's not the first time a building with ties to the city's Jewish community has been targeted by similar acts of violence.

In late May, a Jewish school was hit by gunfire. Police said at the time they found at least one bullet hole in the front of the Belz school on Hillsdale Road, near Van Horne Avenue, in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.

Two other Jewish schools were targeted by gunfire last November.

Last week, a Quebec man was also arrested on charges of 3D printing of firearms and spreading hate about Jews on the Telegram social media platform.

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