Police have arrested a 17-year-old Madagascar native in connection with the assault of an Israeli student speaking Hebrew on a Paris subway.
The teen has admitted to assaulting the Israeli student, but denied that he had antisemitic motivations, Israel’s Kan national broadcaster reported. He has an arrest record in France.
The victim, identified as Yogev Burshtein, 30, entered the metro train at the Château d’Eau station on Monday morning and answered a phone call from his father speaking Hebrew. Two men, described as tall and of African origin, then “began to shout at him, helped by passengers who threatened him and pointed at him,” according to a statement from France’s National Bureau of Vigilance Against antisemitism, or BNVCA.
One of the men attacked the student, striking him on the head, body and face. The student fainted, according to BNVCA, and was taken to a Paris hospital after a fellow passenger called for assistance.
The alleged attacker escaped. He was identified though surveillance camera footage. He was arrested Wednesday evening on charges of racially motivated violence.
The police are searching for a second suspect who was on the train with the arrested teen.
BNVCA praised the arrest in a statement and said the attack should be considered a hate crime, saying “the [antisemitic] motive is clear and must be used against the attacker as an aggravating circumstance.”
The antisemitism watchdog called for a harsh penalty despite the fact that the suspect is a minor.