Montreal Metro Stations Vandalized Amidst Rising Israel-Hamas Tensions

A Montreal Métro maintenance worker walks along a station platform during the early hours of the morning in Montreal, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Montreal police transit officers will investigate after 16 metro stations were hit with pro-Palestinian posters overnight. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Montreal police are actively investigating a widespread vandalism incident that targeted at least 16 Metro stations across the city. The acts of defacement, predominantly involving pro-Palestinian posters and some graffiti, come amidst escalating tensions related to the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East.

The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) confirmed that multiple stations on the orange, blue, and green lines, including Jean-Talon, Villa-Maria, Mont-Royal, Pie-IX, Du Parc, and Acadie, were affected. Commuters and residents started reporting the incidents around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, just before the commencement of the train services.

Pink spray-painted graffiti on the wall outside Beaubien Metro station. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

The posters displayed messages like “Genocide in Palestine, Canada complicit,” highlighting the global outcry over the destruction and rising death toll in Gaza. Some graffiti also called for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, and announcements of a protest scheduled for Sunday in support of Gaza were made.

Sabrina Gauthier, a spokesperson for the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), stated that the hate crimes unit was initially assigned to lead the investigation as a precautionary measure. This decision was influenced by recent violent acts towards Jewish institutions in the city. However, the case was later transferred to the SPVM’s Metro division, treating it as mischief rather than a hate crime.

An STM worker paints over graffiti at one of the vandalized Metro stations. The STM says the cleanup will be gradual but should be complete by end of day Tuesday. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante took to social media to condemn these “unacceptable acts,” asserting that such actions compromise the public’s sense of security and will not be tolerated. “Metro stations are the gateway to the daily lives of Montrealers, and we will not tolerate them being vandalized,” Mayor Plante emphasized, assuring that the perpetrators would be apprehended and punished.

Beaubien Metro station in Montreal’s Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough was among more than a dozen stations plastered with pro-Palestinian posters overnight. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

The STM denounced the vandalism in a statement, mentioning that maintenance teams were deployed for cleanup, which is expected to be completed by the end of the day. The authority also reassured the public that their security team is working in conjunction with the SPVM on the investigation.

Yeshiva Gedola of Montreal, a Jewish school located in the city’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood, was once again targeted by gunfire overnight. (Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada)

This incident has heightened the already tense atmosphere in Montreal, with recent reports of gunfire and firebombs targeting Jewish schools and institutions, and other hate crimes affecting the Muslim community.

Police say no suspects have been arrested yet, but they are reviewing security camera footage from the affected stations to gather evidence.