Monday, 2 Aug 2021 - 24 of Av, 5781

Police likely to replace army protection at Jewish sites, U.S. and Israel embassies in Belgium

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European Jewish Press has learned that at a meeting on Wednesday Belgian authorities assured that the level of security would remain the same as before. It is assumed that the military would be replaced by police forces reinforcement.

The Belgian army will no longer assume the protection of Jewish buildings and sites as well as of the U.S. and Israel embassies, European Jewish Press has learned following a meeting on Wednesday at the Interior Ministry cabinet.

The meeting took place after Jewish organizations in Belgium learned that the government had decided to remove the military protection of Jewish sites from the 1st of September despite a ‘’serious’’ ongoing threat level and amidst rising antisemitism across the country, especially following the coronavirus crisis and Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Jewish groups deplored that the decision was taken without consultation with Jewish communities and without a suitable alternative being proposed. The chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations in Europe (EJA), Rabbi Menachem Margolin, wrote a letter to Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden urging her to reconsider the decision “precisely when the antisemitic threats are at its peak and the harassment of Jews is becoming a daily struggle.”

European Jewish Press has learned that during Wednesday’s meeting, Belgian authorities have assured that the level of security would remain the same as before. It is assumed that the military would be replaced by police forces reinforcement.

Army presence at Jewish buildings has been in place since the terrorist attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014 which left four people dead.

In light of the 1st September plans, a new meeting is to take place in the second half of August to discuss a request for a fund to be made available to Jewish communities to increase their security.

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