Saturday, May 24, 2014

24-May-14: Killings in Brussels this afternoon

Site of today's murders, from the museum's
From Bloomberg this evening, an update on the evident attack by terrorists on people at the Musée Juif de Belgique, Belgium's Jewish museum:
Three people died and a fourth was injured in a shooting today at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in the capital, Brussels.
“We’re trying to determine if they were visitors or members of the Jewish Museum staff,” Yvan Mayeur, mayor of the city of Brussels, said on RTBF television. The attack took place shortly before 4 p.m. local time “inside the Jewish Museum, so this is clearly very serious,” Mayeur said.
Interior Minister Joelle Milquet told reporters that “we can’t say for sure that it was an antisemitic attack” because the investigation is still under way. “But there’s a strong presumption, since it’s a case of a shooting, which could have been at random though that remains to be confirmed, and obviously it’s taken place in the Jewish Museum,” she said.
The attack was carried out by a lone gunman, who double-parked his car outside the museum, entered carrying one or two backpacks and opened fire, RTBF reported. The man then left the museum quickly and drove away, though witnesses managed to note down his license plate number, RTBF said, adding that no suspects had been detained as of about 6:00 p.m... Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, who was near the museum at the time of the shooting, said that he saw two victims lying in the museum lobby, while the others, whom he didn’t see, were inside the building... “Clearly when there are murders inside a Jewish museum, you ask yourself if it was an antisemitic attack,” he said. “But wait until we have caught the culprit or culprits and we can be sure.”
A JTA report quotes a Belgian source:
”This is probably a terrorist attack,” Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur told De Standaard.
[Image Source]
Concern about rising antisemitism has been on the Belgian agenda in recent weeks. A Haaretz report "Anti-Semitic rally in Brussels broken up by police with water cannon" (May 4, 2014) says
Belgian riot police used water cannon Sunday afternoon to break up a demonstration of some 500 extreme-right, anti-Semitic activists that had been banned by local authorities... Earlier, the Belgian League against anti-Semitism filed a legal complaint to block what it called "a day of hate that would serve as a platform for the worst gathering of anti-Semite authors, theorists and propagandists that our country has seen since the end of World War II."
See also Isi Leibler, "Anti-Semitism in Belgium reaches new heights", Jerusalem Post, September 24, 2013. And "EU Officials Appalled at Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe", published just five days ago by Israel National News in which Menachem Margolin, the General Director of the European Jewish Association said, in a briefing for EU ambassadors and officials after the release of the ADL global anti-Semitism report (see our post "13-May-14: Understanding who hates us"):
“The focus of EU efforts should not only be on specific anti–Semitic incidents, as horrific as they are, but rather on the increasing legitimacy hate groups are receiving from the European public and the rise of extreme right wing parties throughout the continent..."
UPDATE Saturday 11:30 pm Israel time: According to the BBC (but others are not saying it, at least yet):
A suspect has been arrested in connection with the shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels which left three dead. Police are hunting a second suspect who escaped on foot.
UPDATE Sunday 07:00: A Belgian newspaper says the person held by the police is being questioned as a witness, and not as a suspect.

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