Jewish Agency: Anti-Semitic Acts in Jan. 2009 Triple Last Year's Records

250 cases of anti-Semitic incidents noted in first month of 2009, compared to 80 same time last year.

A total of 250 anti-Semitic acts around the world were recorded in January 2009, according to a Jewish Agency report released on Sunday. This marks a dramatic leap from the 80 cases recorded during the same time last year.

According to the Agency, Israel's 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip most likely prompted the increased animosity.

The operation was launched with Israel's aim to halt Hamas militants' rocket firing into southern Israel. During the operation some 1,300 Palestinians were killed, spurring a spate of protests and demonstrations around the world which in some cases turned violent.

Earlier this month in Toulouse, France, assailants rammed a burning car into the gates of a synagogue, causing damage but no injuries. That same day in southern Sweden, a Jewish congregation was attacked when someone broke a window and threw a burning object inside.

In the United States, vandals used shaving cream to paint swastikas on a Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, and shattered one of its windows in mid-January.

France, home to one of the world's largest Muslim and Jewish populations, saw one of the most notable increases in the number anti-Semitic attacks since the beginning of Israel's offensive in Gaza.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has indicated that numerous blogs carry messages of violence against Israel, and that the state courts were ready to take vigorous action against any perpetrators of hate crimes related to Gaza.

In light of the wave of anti-Semitic incidents that took place in the country, French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited in mid-January leaders of the Jewish, Muslim and Catholic communities in France to issue a joint condemnation of incidents that took place in the country.

The incidents included a stabbing of a a young Jewish man by two masked car thieves outside Paris, and two firebombing attacks against synagogues in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, and in Strasburg.