Woman accused of ramming her car at gate of Tarzana synagogue faces hate crime charge

A woman accused of ramming her vehicle through the gate of a Tarzana synagogue and cultural center is facing a hate crime charge.

Police responded to a call of vandalism at the 6100 block of Wilbur Avenue. The suspect, Tikvah Mottahedeh, 54, is accused of ramming her vehicle into the Eretz Synagogue and Cultural Center gates and then proceeding to hit another gate on the property, authorities said.

However, Nader Ghiam, president of the synagogue board of directors, said in a statement that the Eretz board members believe this wasn't a hate crime or an antisemitic act but just vandalism. The statement does not elaborate on why the board members believe the incident was not a hate crime.

"Our community still stands as strong as ever, and will persevere through any moment, especially a moment that is as melancholic as this one," Ghiam said.

Tensions over the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas have been on the rise at synagogues and other gathering places for the Jewish community throughout Los Angeles County.

Read more: Protests grow violent after screening of film on Hamas attacks at Museum of Tolerance

A Sunday demonstration in support of Israel turned deadly in Thousands Oaks when an altercation broke out between a 69-year-old Jewish man, Paul Kessler, and a pro-Palestinian demonstrator. Kessler died of severe head injuries. An investigation of the incident is ongoing.

Read more: Paul Kessler died protesting in support of Israel. What really happened?

Two hours after the crash at the synagogue, Mottahedeh was located by police and arrested on suspicion of hate crime vandalism. She could not be reached for comment Thursday. Several Facebook and Instagram accounts listed with the name Tikvah Mottahedeh include posts that are critical of the Israeli government, President Biden, former President Trump and Hollywood.

Ghiam said police will continue their investigation and have been provided with footage from the surveillance cameras installed around the property.

It is unknown whether the synagogue and cultural center building sustained any damage, but photos of the front of the facility show a large gate on the ground.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.