Man sets fire to synagogue in France, is shot dead by police

He started a fire that caused ‘significant damage’ to the property but no injuries.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

On Friday morning in Rouen, France, a man who set fire to a synagogue and fought with law enforcement was shot dead by police on the scene.

According to the police, the man climbed a trash can at 6:30 am on Friday to reach the first floor of the synagogue and threw an “incendiary element” inside.

He started a fire that caused “significant damage” to the property but no injuries.

When firefighters and law enforcement arrived on the scene, the arsonist climbed down, threw metal bars at the offices, and attacked them with a knife.

The officers fired at the arsonist in self-defense and killed him.

Jewish areas in France have been under high alert, given the steep rise in antisemitic incidents since the beginning of Israel’s war against Hamas.

Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, the mayor of Rouen, said that although the identity and motive of the man aren’t clear, “in all likelihood, it is a deeply antisemitic act.”

He added that anyone who attacks the Jewish community “is attacking all of France.”

France is also under high-security alert ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris beginning in July.

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French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stated that there have been 360 antisemitic incidents in France this month, a 300% increase from the year before.

Yonathan Arfi, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, said in a social media post, “Setting fire to a synagogue is an attempt to intimidate all Jews.”

The arson attack in Rouen comes days after a Holocaust memorial in Paris was vandalized on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Wall of the Righteous at the Shoah [Holocaust] Memorial was vandalized with blood-red hands in what French authorities and Jewish leaders described as a “hateful rallying cry against Jews.”

Located in central Paris, the wall honors people who helped to rescue Jews in France during the country’s Nazi occupation in World War II. May 14, the day of the latest vandalism, marks the anniversary of the first major round-up of French Jews under the Nazis in 1941