Four people were killed at a Jewish museum in Belgium on Saturday in an attack that European Jewish leaders are already comparing to 2012’s massacre at the Ozar HaTorah school in Toulouse, France.
The attack, which took place at the Jewish Museum in central Brussels on Saturday, is being approached as racially motivated by Belgian authorities, who posited that it was motivated by anti-Semitism.
Belgium’s interior minister, Joëlle Milquet, was quoted saying by the RTBF Belgian television station that anti-Semitic motives could be behind the attack.
“It’s a shooting … at the Jewish Museum,” she was quoted saying. “All of this can lead to suspicions of an act of anti-Semitism.”
Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur told the BBC as stating that the shooting was likely a terror attack and that the choice of location “isn’t a coincidence.”
About half of Belgium’s 42,000-strong Jewish community lives in Brussels.
A spokesman for the Brussels fire brigade said the shooter drove up to the museum, went inside and fired shots.
“According to the information we have at the moment, it was a solitary shooter and it seems to have happened inside the museum,” Pierre Meys, Brussels fire brigade spokesman, told French channel BFM TV.
Security around all Jewish institutions in the country has been raised to the highest level, and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was meeting with police and senior officials to discuss the situation.
According to the European Jewish Congress, a crisis center organized by the Consistoire Central and the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations (CCOJB) along with other communal leaders has opened and is in contact with local and national authorities.
Speaking with the Jerusalem Post, Consistoire head Baron Julien Klener said that he had met with the Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and other senior officials and that authorities are “trying to find the suspects.”
Maurice Sosnowski, president of the CCOJB, compared the incident to the 2012 shooting of four Jews in a school in France by an Qaeda-inspired gunman, Mohamed Merah.