Belgian City of Antwerp Boosts Protection for Jewish Community After Vienna Attack
Authorities in Belgium have announced additional measures to secure the Jewish community in the city of Antwerp following the terrorist attack in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday.
Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever said on Tuesday that the decision had been taken based on police intelligence reports indicating a rising risk.
The size of Antwerp’s mainly Orthodox Jewish community is estimated at around 20,000 people.
A spokesperson for the community advised “extra vigilance” in the coming weeks.
“The Jewish community in our country is in full alert after the attack in Vienna,” Michael Freilich said in a statement.
“Synagogues and Jewish cultural centers are closed, but a number of schools provide emergency accommodation and kosher supermarkets are of course also open,” Freilich added. “The mayor of Antwerp immediately had extra security measures activated, for which the Jewish community is grateful.”
According to OCAD, the Belgian government agency responsible for analyzing terrorist threats, Antwerp’s community is facing a “Level 3” threat, which indicates a serious possibility of a terrorist attack.
Belgium’s main Jewish organization meanwhile called on the government to abandon plans to withdraw Belgian soldiers from protective duties in the streets of its cities, as part of a new coalition agreement with other political parties.
In a statement, the Forum of Jewish Organizations (FJO) said it was an “irresponsible decision,” pledging to raise the issue with government ministers.