Police in Rouen, France, Shoot and Kill Man Who Set Fire to a Synagogue

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Ron Kampeas

Police in Rouen shot and killed a man as he rushed them with a knife after setting fire to a synagogue in the northern French city, authorities said, in the latest in a spate of attacks on synagogues in Europe during the Israel-Hamas war.

Police rushed to the synagogue early Friday after receiving reports of smoke arising from the building. They spotted a man atop the building armed with a knife and what some reports said was a chisel. He leapt off the building and rushed police, who shot him.


Reports said the man, an Algerian national, 29, was seen on security cameras tossing a firebomb into the synagogue. He was facing deportation back to his home country.

There was no one in the synagogue at the time, but the walls and furniture heavily damaged, said Natacha Benhaim, who heads the city’s Jewish community.

“I’m really upset, it’s catastrophic,” she was quoted as saying by the BBC. “The Torah scrolls, the holy books, did not come to any harm.”

There have been multiple arrests for attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions across Europe since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists massacred hundreds of people inside Israel, launching the war. In recent weeks, a synagogue in Warsaw was attacked with a Molotov cocktail, as was a synagogue in Oldenberg, Germany. Tensions are high: Police in Stockholm shut down streets on Friday after reports of gunshots fired near a synagogue there. Several countries have announced arrests of suspects accused of planning attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets.

A rally to show support for Rouen’s Jewish community followed the attack. Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, speaking in the city, said the attack was “obviously an antisemitic act,” the New York Times reported. “No matter the threats the Jewish community faces, they must know that they are protected.”

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who is of Jewish descent, said this month that there were 366 antisemitic incidents in France in the first three months of this year, a 300% increase over the same period last year.

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