A Jew was murdered in the Moroccan city of Fez, media outlets in the North African country reported on Monday, one day after an Israeli diplomat was evacuated from the Moroccan capital of Rabat to avoid a mob of protesters that was burning Israeli flags outside the parliament building.
According to initial reports, the victim, whose name was said to be Binyamin, worked as a rent collector for Jewish-owned shops and other properties in the predominantly Jewish Malah neighborhood of Fez. He was reportedly hit in the head with a hammer.
Just last week, King Mohammed VI denounced the shooting attack that killed four Jews, including three children, in Toulouse, France.
Israel does not maintain an embassy in the North African country, and Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it had received no prior notice about possible attacks against Jews there.
According to an eyewitness, an unidentified man used an iron hammer to strike the victim, who suffered fatal head wounds in the attack and died in the ambulance en route to the local hospital.
Moroccan news outlets reported that the country's attorney-general had ordered an investigation of the incident and demanded, among other things, an autopsy of the body.
The murder, as stated, occurred a day after tens of thousands of locals demonstrated in “support of Jerusalem” and burned Israeli flags in front of the parliament building where Israeli diplomat David Saranga was attending a conference.
Saranga, Israel’s delegate to the European Parliament in Brussels, was attending the annual EUROMED conference, a joint forum of European and Mediterranean countries, on Sunday, when protesters marched toward the Moroccan parliament building waving Palestinians flags and burning Israeli ones.
Days before the start of the conference, Morocco’s Islamist ruling Justice and Development Party declared a boycott on the conference to protest the Israeli diplomat’s participation. Aziz Ammari, the party’s parliamentary head, told Al Arabiya that his party had a long-held position of boycotting “all forms of activities with Israel.” Ammari was quoted by Al Arabiya as telling Morocco’s Hespress website that his party “will not participate in any parliament activity attended by the Zionist entity.”
Saranga told Israel Hayom on Monday that as “unpleasant” as the protests were, they were no reason for him not to return to Morocco in the future, adding that he hoped Rabat and Jerusalem could one day enjoy proper diplomatic relations.
The Israeli diplomat said that countries choosing to boycott future EUROMED conferences because of the participation of Israeli representatives could miss out on an “amazing project that promotes partnership in the area, an important and constructive process, which is a benefit for all sides.”
“We have to remember that [EUROMED] is an international forum, composed of European and Mediterranean countries,” Saranga said. “No countries that want to be a part of this process can deny any other member, so I hope Israel’s partners in this international forum will understand the benefits of cooperation with all members.”
The massive protest, which numbered tens of thousands of demonstrators, peaked following several days of quieter protests and calls for Saranga’s expulsion from Morocco. According to Reuters, at least 40,000 people took to the streets as part of the march organized by the Al-Adl Wal Ihsan (Justice and Spirituality) group. However, organizers said some 100,000 participated in the demonstration.
At the end of the conference, security forces opted to escort Saranga out via a back door, due to concerns that the mob outside would try to attack him as he exited the building.
Saranga was then taken under heavy security to the airport, where he opted not to wait for his scheduled flight back to Brussels that night, but instead boarded an earlier flight to Paris, connecting back to his Brussels office in Europe.