France: 2 arrested in brutal murder of Holocaust survivor

French authorities have arrested two suspects in the murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll and are planning to charge them with premeditated murder motivated by anti-Semitism.

By: World Israel News Staff and agencies

French authorities on Monday announced that they arrested two suspects in the brutal murder of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, and that they are planning to charge them with premeditated murder of a vulnerable person motivated by anti-Semitism.

The Paris prosecutor’s office asked for the suspects to be jailed pending trial. They will face charges of “murder related to the victim’s religion, real or imagined,” according to a French judicial source.

French police discovered Knoll’s charred body covered with 11 stab wounds after a fire broke out in her Paris apartment on Friday. 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.

Sources in the Jewish community said Knoll had complained about threats from her Muslim neighbor, saying he had even threatened to burn her.

During the Holocaust, Knoll was living in Paris during the time of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, a Nazi-directed raid and mass arrest of Jews in Paris by the French police, code-named Opération Vent Printanier (“Operation Spring Breeze”), which took place in July 1942. She managed to escape the deportation. After the Holocaust, she continued to live in Paris and married a Holocaust survivor.

“For the Jews of France, the nightmare continues. While France is still reeling from trauma after the [Islamic] 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 an act of 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 Knoll—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.”

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Monday expressed its “shock and horror” over Knoll’s “barbaric murder” and echoed the calls of its French affiliate, CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France), in expecting authorities to maintain full transparency over the course of the investigation.

A record number of French Jews have immigrated to Israel since 2015 amid growing violent anti-Semitism in the country.