Home inContext Three Children, One Rabbi Killed Outside Jewish School in France

Three Children, One Rabbi Killed Outside Jewish School in France

Samara Greenberg

A gunman on a motorbike opened fire outside of a Jewish school in Toulouse, France on Monday morning, killing a rabbi who taught at the school and his two sons, ages three and six. The young daughter of the school principal was also killed, a 17-year-old was seriously injured and is now “hovering between life and death,” and the school custodian is suspected of being injured. The assailant remains at large.

France is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe. According to the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, 389 anti-Semitic acts were reported last year. The Jewish population in Toulouse stands at approximately 20,000 people, with some 600 Jewish children attending the school that was attacked on Monday, Ozar Hatorah.

A student is escorted from the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school after the shooting.

Confusing the situation, the shooting at the Jewish school is connected to two recent incidents in the same area of France in which three French soldiers of North African origin were killed. On Thursday in the town of Montaubana, a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three soldiers standing by an ATM machine. Two of the soldiers were killed and the third seriously wounded. The weekend prior, an off-duty soldier not in uniform was shot and killed by an assailant on a motorbike in the same city as the Jewish school, Toulouse. According to French police, the same gun was used in all three incidents.

French authorities are treating the shootings as potential acts of terrorism, with Paris prosecutor Francois Molins opening investigations “for acts of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise.” At this time, it is unknown if the shooting at the Jewish school is also related to recent foiled and realized attacks against Israeli embassies abroad. Even so, former Israeli Counterterrorism Bureau chief Nitzan Nuriel drew a line between the attack in France and the others, stating that Tehran and its proxy terror groups are trying to deter Israel from attacking its nuclear facilities through carrying out deadly acts overseas.