An elderly holocaust survivor was brutally murdered by a Muslim neighbor she had known since he was seven years old, her family members told Israeli media.
Mireille Knoll, 85, was killed Friday in Paris. Two men were charged in the murder. They allegedly stabbed Knoll and then set her apartment on fire. One was a Muslim neighbor that she had known since he was a seven-year-old boy, The Times of Israel reported. The assailant, 21, spent time in the elderly woman’s building the day of the attack, The New York Post reported.
Authorities are investigating the attack as an anti-Semitic incident.
Knoll’s family members expressed their shock at the incident. “My mother accepted everyone. Even the neighbor who murdered her, she has known since he was seven years old. When he was a boy, he helped her,” said Daniel Knoll, her son.
She was “always happy to see [the neighbor]. It’s unbelievable that it ended like this,” said Noa Goldfard, her granddaughter.
The assailants also wrecked the woman’s home and set fire to her belongings. The neighbor was found in possession of the woman’s phone. He was previously arrested for sexually assaulting her former caretaker’s 12-year-old daughter, Reuters reported.
Knoll previously warned police that her neighbor threatened to kill her. The elderly woman also suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
“Until now, I haven’t felt anti-Semitism in France. Of course there were dangerous Muslim extremists, but until today I didn’t feel in danger,” her son said. “I work with people from all walks of French society; many are afraid of Muslim extremists, but I didn’t feel that until now. Even today I’m not afraid. There are some who are uneducated, idiots, but they exist everywhere in the world.”
“Grandma didn’t believe in evil. That may be the reason she’s no longer with us,” Goldfarb told Israeli Radio.
“Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
The elderly woman previously visited Yad Vashem, a holocaust museum in Jerusalem, Israel. She escaped a roundup of Jews in 1942 by fleeing to Portugal with her mother. (RELATED: I’m A Jew. I Had No Idea I’d Be Spending Christmas Among Neo-Nazis)
Knoll’s murder took place one year after the murder of Jewish woman Sarah Halimi-Attal, 65. A neighbor threw her out of a window while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” according to reports.
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