Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Daniel Knoll, the son of slain Parisian Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, in a phone call Sunday that “the people of Israel and the state of Israel embrace you.”
“This horrifying murder,” added Netanyahu, “reminds us of how the struggles of our people are still ahead of us.”
Mirielle Knoll was 85 years old when she was murdered in her Paris apartment in a killing immediately linked to anti-Semitism, a sentiment many French Jews feel is growing in France.
In an interview with AFP shortly after the murder, Daniel Knoll revealed that one of the two suspected perpetrators visited his mother regularly and that “she treated him like a son.” Further investigations confirmed early suspicions that the attackers were motivated anti-Semitic prejudices rooted in extremist Islamist ideology.
On March 23, the day Knoll was murdered, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was set to visit Israel for talks focused on Iran. On his trip to Israel, Le Drian was the first one to suggest the murder was a hate-crime motivated by the victim’s religion.
The murder soon received substantial international coverage and sparked commotion in and beyond France. Thousands demonstrated in Paris on Wednesday in a march organized by CRIF, an umbrella organization of French Jewish groups.
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On the same day, French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise appearance at Knoll's funeral, a move that pleased Netanyahu, who praised the gesture publicly.
"Israel welcomes the determined, unequivocal stand of the president of France and the French establishment, which condemned the murder and expressed complete commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism," Netanyahu said.
The public prosecutor's department in Paris opened an investigation into the murder treating it as a hate crime and demanding further charges for “aggravated theft,” and with “damaging another person’s property by means dangerous to the people,” while ordering preventive detention for the two perpetrators.
Mireille Knoll escaped the infamous 1942 roundup of more than 13,000 Jews in Paris by running away to Portugal with her mother, which makes her one the 100 people who survived after being detained at at the so-called Vel d'Hiv cycling cycling track.
Knoll then married another Holocaust survivor in Paris after the war, but her partner passed away in the early 2000s. According to her son, she had no money and lived in an accomodation provided by social housing until she was stabbed to death at the end of last month.