Yesterday afternoon 2 terrorists drove up to the Jewish Museum in Brussels and opened fire, killing 4 people, amongst them an Israeli couple from Tel Aviv, who have now been named as Emanuel and Miriam Riva:
The Foreign Ministry confirmed Sunday that two of the four fatalities from the shooting were an Israeli couple from Tel Aviv.
A third fatality was a volunteer at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, according to an unconfirmed report Saturday night on the news site HLN.be, the online edition of the Het Laatste Nieuws daily. A fourth victim, whom HLN reported was a 23-year-old employee of the museum, was also killed.
Police have no suspects in custody, the news site also reported. Belgian authorities are yet to release the names of those who died in the museum and the fourth person.
The shooter aimed for the victims throats and heads, witnesses told the daily.
The cold-blooded attack brings back awful memories of the Toulouse shooting a couple of years ago:
European Jewish leaders are already comparing the shooting to 2012’s massacre at the Ozar HaTorah school in Toulouse, France.
The attack 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 as 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 was quoted by 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.
An anti-terror expert indeed compared the methodology of the attack to the Toulouse murders:
Claude Moniquet, a former agent of the France’s DSGE spy agency, told JTA that Saturday’s slaying of three people in Brussels “is reminiscent of Toulouse and Montauban killings and resembles other similar attacks, including by Islamists.”
In 2012, Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French Islamist, killed four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse several days after he killed three soldiers in the suburb of Montauban. French authorities believe Merah, who was killed ina shootout with police, was aided by his brother Abdelkader Merah and possibly a few other accomplices.
“The characteristics of this attack mean it was planned for some time, a few days at the least,” said Moniquet, who heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, a Brussels-based think tank. “This is evident from the fact that the perpetrators selected one of the only Jewish institutions that are not protected,” he added.
Carrying out an attack like the one at the museum “does not necessarily require a large network — a cell of two perpetrators with assistance from another five or six. The small dimensions of this cell make it harder to detect,” Moniquet added.
Belgium’s interior minister, Joelle Milquet, told media at a press conference in Brussels that “maximum security has been deployed around places frequented by the Jewish community,“ adding there was no concrete threat in Belgium or on Belgium’s federal elections, which are scheduled to be held on Sunday.
But Moniquet said the decision to elevate security was “necessary because the perpetrators presumably knew they were on a no-way-out operation. They are working under the assumption that they will be caught within days, and therefore have a motivation to maximize the attack by striking again if capable.
“This act of murder is the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state,” Netanyahu said in a statement hours after the attack. “Slander and lies against the State of Israel continue to be heard on European soil even as the crimes against humanity and acts of murder being perpetrated in our region are systematically ignored. Our response to this hypocrisy is to constantly state the truth, continue a relentless fight against terrorism and build up our strength.”
Liberman echoed Netanayhu while also tying the attack to “calls to boycott Israel and boycott Israeli products.”