Jewish schools in Belgium closed due to terror threat

Jewish schools in Belgium closed due to terror threat

Decision follows security evaluation by community leaders, reportedly in coordination with Mossad; school, synagogue in Amsterdam shuttered as a precaution

Illustrative: Antwerp's Jewish district (JTA/Ben Harris)
Illustrative: Antwerp's Jewish district (JTA/Ben Harris)

Jewish schools in Brussels and Antwerp were closed Friday due to the heightened terror threat against sensitive targets, one day after the Belgian police conducted a wide anti-terror operation targeting jihadists who have returned from Syria.

In nearby Amsterdam, an Orthodox synagogue and Jewish school were shuttered Friday as well.

Belgian police killed two men who opened fire during one of about a dozen raids on Thursday against an Islamist group that, according to federal prosecutors, was about to launch “terrorist attacks on a grand scale.”

The decision to cancel classes in Jewish schools in Belgium followed a security evaluation by the internal security service of the Jewish community on the basis of the available information, reports said.

According to Antwerp’s Joods Actueel Jewish magazine, Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, which advises Israeli embassies in countries with prominent Jewish communities, took part in the security analysis. Around 40,000 Jews live in the country.

Over in Holland’s Amsterdam, an Orthodox synagogue was closed Friday, Israel Radio reported. A Jewish school in Amsterdam canceled classes as a precaution, the Ynet news website reported, although there were no concrete threats against it. A senior Western official told CNN early Friday that second to Belgium, the Netherlands is also at risk of attack by European jihadists.

Belgian Magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters Thursday the suspects were on the verge of perpetrating a major terror attack in Belgium. He told an emergency press conference that Belgium’s terror-alert level had been raised to its second-highest notch.

Coming a week after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, including 4 Jewish men in a kosher supermarket, Belgium’s police operation fueled fears across Europe of attacks by young Muslims who have returned — radicalized — from Syria.

But the Belgian probe had been under way before the Paris attacks and Belgian officials saw no obvious link between the two.

In May 2014, an Islamist terrorist, Mehdi Nemmouche, who had also joined jihadist groups in Syria before returning to Europe, killed four people in the Jewish Museum of Belgium, located in Brussels.

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