Gas canisters found in a car outside a shul in Marseilles raised alarm among the city’s Jewish community over Shabbos. By Sunday afternoon, after investigation, the items were believed to be unconnected to any planned attack.
Rabbi Moshe Lewin, executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis and special advisor to the Chief Rabbi of France, told Hamodia that security sources in Marseilles had confirmed that the incident was a “false alarm” that had garnered wide attention as a result of a similar threat to Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral last week. Arrests have been made in the latter case.
“The shul does not appear to have been a target, baruch Hashem,” he said. “The car belonged to a local person and the gas canisters were his.”
The car was spotted Shabbos at around 11 a.m. by a member of the security force that focuses on protecting Jewish institutions in France. Police were called to the location outside the small shul, Khal Bar Yochi. No trigger device was found. Tefillos continued throughout Shabbos as normal.
Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of AJC’s Paris office, told Hamodia that the owner was identified and that he was shown to have “no terrorist links.”
“It is, of course, no surprise that this event has generated a certain panic,” she said. “France is still under the highest terrorist threat, only recently confirmed by France’s Minister of Interior, who said that since the beginning of the year, 293 individuals linked to terrorist networks have been arrested.
“In this context, the Jewish community continues to remain a primary target and thus under the highest alert.”