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The terror group, also known as ISIS, made the statement in a 37-minute audio message on Monday by its spokesman, Abu Hamza al-Quraishi, the AFP news agency reported.

Speaking on behalf of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi, al-Quraishi called on Islamic State fighters to launch a “new phase, which is to fight the Jews and restore all that they have usurped from Muslims”, the London-based Asharq-Al-Awsat reported.

“The eyes of the soldiers of the caliphate, wherever they are, are still on Jerusalem,” al-Quraishi said. “And in the coming days, G-d willing, you will see what harms you and what will make you forget the horrors you have seen.”

The message was published on the terror organisation’s usual social-media channels, according to AFP, which said it had not authenticated the message. ISIS rarely targets Israel, the news service said.

Stolen Chagall auctioned

A painting by Jewish modernist Marc Chagall sold at auction for $130 000 (R2.4 million), the lowest estimated bid suggested by the auction house.

The buyer, from Tel Aviv, wishes to remain anonymous, a spokesman for the Tiroche Auction House in Herzliya told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The artwork, the size of a standard sheet of office paper, was sold on Saturday.

Titled Jacob’s Ladder, the oil painting by the famed Jewish modernist was scheduled for a 1996 sale, but was stolen days before that auction. It was found in 2015 in the estate of an elderly woman in Jerusalem after her death.

Migdal Insurance, which paid the 1996 claim on the stolen Chagall, demanded custody of the painting and a Tel Aviv court ruled in 2015 that the painting be transferred to the insurance company. Migdal offered the work for sale through Tiroche to recoup the money it paid to the painting’s previous owner.

A Chagall painting, Les Amoureux, sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 2017 for a record $28.45 million (R540.7 million).

Duchess holds photo shoot with Holocaust survivors

Kate Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge, has released photo portraits she took of two Holocaust survivors with their grandchildren.

The photos, released on Monday, marked as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, are part of a project of the Royal Photographic Society, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and the London-based Jewish News.

Kensington Palace shared three behind-the-scenes photos of the wife of Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne, with the subjects of the portraits. They will be part of an exhibition scheduled to open later this year of 75 images of survivors and members of their families to mark 75 years since the end of the Holocaust.

The subjects of the portraits are Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank, who both emigrated to Britain after the Holocaust. Frank, photographed with his granddaughters, Maggie and Trixie, was imprisoned in the Theresienstadt camp. Bernstein, who was photographed with her granddaughter, Chloe, was a hidden child in France.

“I wanted to make the portraits deeply personal to Yvonne and Steven – a celebration of family and the life that they have built since they both arrived in Britain in the 1940s,” Middleton said. “The families brought items of personal significance with them which are included in the photographs.”

Majority of racist crimes in France target Jews

Most of the racist hate crimes documented in France last year were anti-Semitic incidents directed at Jews – who make up less than 1% of the country’s population.

The French interior ministry published the data on Sunday in a report that counted 687 anti-Semitic incidents last year from a total of 1 142 racist hate crimes.

The 2019 figure constitutes an increase of nearly 27% from 541 such cases documented in 2018. Threats accounted for 536 incidents last year, with the remaining 151 defined as “acts” – instances of assault against Jews or vandalism of their property.

France has about half a million Jews among a population of 65 million.

Attacks and threats against Muslims rose 54% over the previous year at 154 incidents. Muslims account for about 9% of France’s population.

Anti-Christian incidents are not classified as racist, and are their own category in the report. They numbered 1 052 cases.

The acts documented in the report “are an intolerable attack on our shared project, the fundamentals of our social and republican contract”, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner wrote in response to the report.

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