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Police treat arson attack on two kosher restaurants as 'antisemitic hate crimes'

Police are urging anyone with information about the attacks to be in touch

    The damage to JS restaurant (credit: Lawrence Purcell)

    Police are treating arson attacks on two kosher restaurants within the past five days as “antisemitic hate crimes”.

    The JS and Taam restaurants in Prestwich, north Manchester, were targeted, with the GMP (Greater Manchester Police) saying “initial enquiries suggest the attacks are linked”.

    Just before midnight last Friday, CCTV footage showed two people throwing a Molotov cocktail at Taam’s premises. The device failed to ignite, with one of two attackers then throwing a stone at the restaurant’s front window, smashing it.

    In the early hours of Tuesday morning, arsonists forced open a window at JS restaurant, pouring in flammable liquid which they then set alight. Fire fighters attending the scene fought the blaze for over an hour, managing to extinguish the flames before serious damage was caused.

    No one was hurt in either of the attacks. Both restaurants were closed at the time.

    Detective Chief Inspector Charlotte Cadden of GMP’s Bury Borough said the police were “treating these as antisemitic hate crimes.

    “This is clearly very worrying for businesses and people living in the area and I want to offer you my assurances that we have increased patrols in the area and have a team investigating these linked crimes.

    “We are working alongside the Community Security Trust and if anyone in the area has concerns, I would urge you to come and talk to us.

    “If you have any information about the attacks, no matter how small, I would urge you to get in touch, as you may have information that could help us.”

    Amanda Bomsztyk, CST Northern Regional Director, thanked the police and fire service.

    “We ask our community to be calm, vigilant and to report suspicious, criminal or antisemitic behaviour to GMP and CST”, she said.  

    Michael Issler, the owner of JS, said he was furious at the attack, but heartened by the support he had received from the community.

    In a post on Facebook on Tuesday, he wrote: “No words can describe the anger of the management and staff of what some complete and utter idiot did to our restaurant.

    “I want to thank the amazing fast response of the fire service that arrived in about four minutes and were able to extinguish the fire before it got completely out of hand.

    “I would also like to thank the local police and CST for all the hours of input in going through hours of CCTV footage to try and put a picture together of the attack.

    And lastly thank you to all the many phone calls, emails and messages of support from the whole community and beyond for your words of advice, support and offers of help”.

    Taam also posted a message on social media on Tuesday, saying they were “open today as normal”.

    “We were subjected to a vandal attack (B’H our damage is a smashed window) on Friday night”, their Facebook post read.

    “At this stage we do not know if there is any connection to the JS arson attack last night and would not like to speculate.

    “We wish Michael and the team at JS our very best and hope they are able to return to normal as soon as possible”.

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