A Netherlands Jewish leader was assaulted, tortured and robbed in his home by four masked men in an apparent planned operation, JTA reported on Friday.
Benoit Wesly, a 73-year-old businessman, woke up early Sunday morning to find the assailants around his bed in his home in Maastricht, according to the report. His wife was out of the country at the time.
Wesly was beaten, pushed down the stairs, stabbed and kicked, according to the report. Then the men tied him to a chair, placed a piece of cloth over his mouth and nose, and poured water on the cloth – a torture technique known as waterboarding that simulates drowning — until he gave them the combination to his safe, Wesly told police.
He was bound to the chair for several hours before wriggling free and going to the police station.
Police are investigating the motives for the crime. Reports about the incident did not indicate whether they or Wesly have reason to believe he was chosen because of him being Jewish. Wesly is a leader of the Jewish community in the Limburg region, in the south of the Netherlands, according to JTA.
House invasions involving torture are rare in the Netherlands, as are attacks against Jewish community leaders.
Much like other countries in Europe, the Netherlands has not been immune from anti-Semitic incidents. In February, vandals suspected of being soccer hooligans from The Hague painted graffiti, including swastikas and anti-Semitic texts, on buildings in Amsterdam.
Last summer, Dutch police apprehended a man whom they accused of drawing swastikas on the external wall of the capital’s oldest Jewish cemetery.
In January of 2018, police launched an investigation into vandalism at a synagogue and a hospice for people dying of terminal diseases.
A month earlier, a Syrian man waving a Palestinian Arab flag shattered glass at a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam as two police officers and passers-by watched. The officers arrested the man after he broke into the restaurant through the door he had smashed and removed an Israeli flag.
The same restaurant was targeted again in early January of 2018, when vandals smashed the newly-replaced windows. The owners told local media that the restaurant is often the target of such destructive acts, and that they have asked local authorities’ permission to place security cameras around the site.
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