French police patrol near the Eiffel Tower as security in Paris is bolstered after a shooting killed 12.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On Monday morning armed soldiers congregated outside the schools belonging to the Paris Ecole Sinai network run by Rabbi Yosef Pevzner.
“Normally it’s people in prison who are surrounded by soldiers and now it feels like we are in prison,” the affable Chabad hassid told The Jerusalem Post in response to the army’s deployment at not only his school, but at every Jewish educational institution throughout France.
The government mobilized the army only days after Islamist gunmen shocked the world by killing seventeen people in attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a subsequent hostage taking at the Hyper Cacher kosher market.
The coordinated assaults amounted to the deadliest attack by Islamist terrorists on a European city since 57 people were killed in an attack on London’s transport system in 2005.
In addition to some 10,000 troops dispatched throughout France, 4,700 police officers areeing deployed at all 717 Jewish schools across the country, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
Until now Pevzner’s schools, like many Jewish sites, have been guarded by private security, he said, adding that since Sunday’s anti-terrorism protests, in which some 1.2 million people marched in Paris on Sunday and 2.5 million more in the provinces, “we feel that the atmosphere has changed.”
It seems that France has “suddenly received the message that it is impossible to continue like this,” he said, asserting that many in France feel there is little to do against a rising tide of extremism. The French people’s reaction to the violence seems to have shifted thinking among the country’s leadership, which is now becoming more proactive and showing believers in radical Islam “that the whole country is against them.”
“Until now they thought the French accepted the judgment on themselves,” he added. “Now even the government pays attention that it is impossible to make do with words.”
Pevzner said that the parents of his students were in a panic “that you can’t even describe,” but that they began to calm down when they arrived and saw troops deployed outside the schools.
However, seeing a truck full of armed soldiers outside your child’s school is “not a good feeling.
On the other hand, we are obligated to do that so we do it.”
In 2012, terrorist Mohammad Merah opened fire at Toulouse’s Otzar Hatorah school, killing four people, three of them children.
Paris’s Grand Synagogue was closed over Shabbat, the first time since the Second World War, drawing criticism among some who complained that the government should have done everything possible to keep it open after the attack.
Reuters contributed to this report.