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Antwerp police chief: In crisis, army should protect Jews

Commissioner says military may be used in wake of situation such as May 24’s Jewish Museum of Belgium attack

Policemen close access of the scene of a shooting near the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 24, 2014 (Photo credit: AFP/ Belga Photo/NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)
Policemen close access of the scene of a shooting near the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 24, 2014 (Photo credit: AFP/ Belga Photo/NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)

Citing the deadly May attack on Brussels’ Jewish museum, Antwerp’s police commissioner called on the government to deploy the army to secure Jewish institutions in crisis situations.

Commissioner Serge Muyters spoke at a meeting Wednesday between leaders of the Belgian city’s Jewish community and police leaders, the Joods Actueel Jewish monthly reported.

“If the threat continues to remains at level 4, as it did after the attack in Brussels, then we should be able to deploy the army,” Muyters said, referring to the slaying of four people on May 24 at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.

The deployment of troops during level 4 situations is necessary because the police department “does not have the manpower or money to provide optimal protection, which requires hundreds of extra personnel and millions of euros,” Muyters said.

Currently, Belgian troops do not have the legal mandate to carry out policing duties on Belgian soil.

Belgian authorities raised the threat level to 4 after the attack and stationed police officers armed with machine guns outside synagogues and in Jewish neighborhoods while police hunted for the perpetrators. Since then, it has returned to level 3.

A week after the attack, French police in Marseille arrested Mehdi Nemmouche, an Islamist who allegedly fought with jihadists in Syria. Nemmouche allegedly was carrying weapons similar to the ones used in Brussels. Nemmoucche, who denied the allegations, is being tried in Belgium for the killings.

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