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'This is not Montreal': Mayor, police denounce shootings at 2 Jewish schools

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Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said Thursday she was "horrified" by the shots fired at Jewish schools and appealed for calm following the latest acts of violence targeting the city's Jewish community.

"This is absolutely unacceptable. This is not Montreal," Plante said, flanked by the deputy police chief and mayor for the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (CDN-NDG) borough where the shootings happened.

"Our values [are] to be inclusive, to be respectful, and it has to stay that way because this is what Montreal wants."

Montreal police (SPVM) confirmed Thursday they are investigating after two Jewish schools were hit by bullets overnight.

The first incident was reported to police at 8:20 a.m. when a member of the United Talmud Torahs of Montreal Inc. found a bullet hole in a door of the school. The institution on Saint-Kevin and Victoria avenues includes an elementary and high school.

About 30 minutes later on Thursday morning, someone called 911 about a bullet hole found in the door of Yeshiva Gedola, a Jewish school that also includes a daycare. The school is near the intersection of Vimy Avenue and Deacon Road, about a 10-minute drive from the first school.

Police search for clues at the Yeshiva Gedolah school after shots were fired at two Jewish schools Thursday, November 9, 2023 in Montreal. Montreal police say two Jewish schools in the city were hit overnight by gunshots. Police say nobody was inside at the time of the shootings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The schools were empty and no injuries were reported.

No arrests have been made, but the mayor delivered a stern message to those who committed "hateful and criminal acts" in Montreal: "You will answer for your actions. This is not who we are here in Montreal, we will not accept it," she said.

Speaking with deputy police chief Vincent Richer and CDN-NDG Mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, Plante called for residents to be "united" and to not resort to violence.

A bullet hole is seen in the right window at Talmud Tora school after shots were fired at two Jewish schools Thursday, November 9, 2023 in Montreal. Montreal police say two Jewish schools in the city were hit overnight by gunshots. Police say nobody was inside at the time of the shootings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

According to figures from Montreal police, there have been 25 hate-motivated incidents targeting Arab-Muslim communities since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. There have been 73 such incidents targeting Jewish communities, for a total of 98, from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7.

Richer said the SPVM has made some arrests in the past few days in relation to said incidents, but didn't share further details. Multiple investigations are ongoing, he said.

"Hateful acts are unacceptable and the SPVM takes them very seriously," he said.

"The SPVM is present on the ground and we will increase our visibility measures at places of worship and other places of interest," particularly in Jewish and Muslim communities. 

VIOLENCE AT CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY 

Tensions have been rising in recent days in Montreal's cultural communities amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. On Wednesday afternoon, police were called to Concordia University in downtown Montreal after an altercation between students became violent.

The university said pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students were involved.

Police arrested one 22-year-old student for assault and said one student and two security guards suffered minor injuries.

TRUDEAU, PREMIER REACT TO INCIDENTS IN MONTREAL

During an announcement in Montreal on housing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the "increase in threats of violence, in violence and hatred" in Montreal.

"Right now, while this conflict and crisis rages in the Middle East, Canadians have an opportunity, and therefore a responsibility, to look to be there for each other. Not to necessarily agree — our diversity includes a diversity of perspectives and opinions — but not to hate with threats of violence or actual violence against someone you disagree with, no matter how strongly felt your fears or convictions are. It doesn't give you the right to do what we saw yesterday at Concordia or in the shots fired at Jewish schools today in Montreal. These are not who we are," he said.

"And if anywhere in the world is going to start building the kinds of understandings that we're going to need to see peaceful resolution in the Middle East, to see, eventually, a viable, safe Palestinian state alongside a safe Jewish state, it starts in a place like Canada. And for people to be lashing out at each other, that's forgetting who we are and it's forgetting the very values that are most necessary in this time."

Quebec Premier François Legault also denounced the shootings and the violent clashes at Concordia University. 

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, he said, "I am very concerned about the shootings this morning at Jewish community schools and the violence we saw yesterday at Concordia University. Hate and violence will never be tolerated in Quebec. The perpetrators must be punished."

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