Leaders of the Jewish community in Venezuela said about 50 anti-Israel protesters gathered outside the country’s largest synagogue on Thursday to demonstrate against the recent Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
The Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations said in a statement that demonstrators gathered outside the country’s synagogue in Caracas, hurling fireworks, disrupting activities and causing panic. The organization said the perpetrators, who at this time remain unidentified, shouted anti-Semitic slogans accusing Jews for the violence in the Middle East.
One woman reportedly held a sign describing Israel as a “terrorist” state, echoing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s words just a few days earlier.
The Jewish confederation has previously expressed concern regarding the rising anti-Semitic trends in the country and beseeched President Hugo Chavez to ensure security at synagogues.
In 2009, a group of assailants broke into the same synagogue, shattering religious objects, spray-painting anti-Semitic slogans and stealing a computer database with names and addresses of Jewish citizens.
Authorities later arrested 11 people, including eight police officers, for alleged involvement.
The incident occurred amid increasing diplomatic hostility between Israel and Venezuela. In 2009, Chavez, who has voiced strong support for Iran’s nuclear program, expelled Israel’s ambassador from the country and severed diplomatic relations in solidarity with the “Palestinian people.” Israel responded by expelling Venezuela’s ambassador to Israel.
Chavez responded by saying, “It is an honor for this socialist government and this revolutionary people to have our representatives expelled by a genocidal government such as Israel.”
Meanwhile, several dozen protesters also demonstrated outside the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, burning an Israeli flag.