Synagogue in Morocco
Synagogue in MoroccoKobi Finkler

The rabbi of the Jewish community in Casablanca, Morocco, Rabbi Moshe Ohayon, was badly beaten on Friday as a retaliation by locals for Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza.

According to Channel 2 News, a young man whose identity is known to the police, waited for the rabbi as he was walking to synagogue, then confronted him and kicked him.

The assailant then continued to beat the rabbi, breaking his nose and causing serious injuries in his ribs. The rabbi said that he begged for help but the passers-by ignored his cries.

The Jewish community in Morocco condemned the incident and said that its members fear a rise in anti-Semitism as the IDF continues Operation Protective Edge.

"Since the recent incidents in Judea, Samaria and Gaza began, there is an increase in harassment of Jews. It has become really scary to live here," a member of the Jewish community was quoted as having said.

It was also reported that, in the wake of the rabbi’s beating, the heads of the local Jewish community have asked the police to beef up security around Jewish institutions in Casablanca.

Before Israel was founded in 1948, there were about 300,000 Jews in Morocco. By 1971, the Jewish population was down to 35,000 and at present fewer than 7,000 Jews are believed to remain, mostly divided between Rabat and Casablanca.

While there have been several Jewish parliamentarians in Morocco over the years, there has also been some violence against Jews in Morocco over the past several years. In 2012, an Israeli delegation was treated to massive display of dangerous hostility when a mob burned an Israeli flag and surrounded the Moroccan parliament building as it hosted a meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED) organization in Rabat. 

The same day, an elderly Jewish man was beaten to death in Fez by an unidentified assailant wielding a heavy hammer.