PARIS – One person was killed and four were wounded in an attack that took place Saturday near Paris’s Opera Square – one of the city’s most tourist-crowded areas.
According to reports, little after 9:00 p.m., a young man attacked five people with a knife.
Police officers who arrived to the scene quickly shot and killed the assailant. Witnesses say that the man called “Allahu akhbar” during the attack.
A few hours after the attack, Islamic State took responsibility for it, though security forces are not sure yet if the man acted on instructions or on his own. Anti-terrorist Judge Francois Molin opened an official inquiry shortly after the incident.
French authorities revealed the identity of the assailant on Sunday morning, as 21-year-old Khamzat Azimov, who was born in Chechnya and who became a French citizen in 2010. Azimov has no criminal record but his name was registered on the country’s security list, which contains the names of some 20,000 people suspected of radicalization or religious extremism.
Azimov’s name also appeared on a separate watch list, known as the FSPRP, which contains names of people assumed to be terrorist threats. It seems that Azimov was questioned as a witness about a year ago regarding a person who had been in contact with someone who went left France for Syria.
Over Saturday night and early Sunday morning, Azimov’s parents were detained for questioning, and the family’s home in the 18th Paris neighborhood was searched.
WITH THE backdrop of Saturday night’s attack at the heart Paris, hundreds of French Jews took part on Sunday in a special aliya fair. The event took place in the Bois de Vincennes neighborhood at the outskirts of Paris, under severe security measures.
Daniel Ben-Haim, the head of the Jewish Agency delegations to France, Belgium and Switzerland, told The Jerusalem Post that ongoing security concerns in Europe play only some part in motivating French Jews to immigrate to Israel. “I cannot say that yesterday’s attack in Paris drove people to come here today to our aliya fair,” he said. “People are obviously shocked and saddened as this is happening in our country, but what scares them most are the attacks against Jewish institutions and school.
These are the events that make some Jewish people consider immigrating. The attack yesterday just adds another layer to the stress.”
A young couple who came to the fair confirmed Ben-Haim’s sentiments. “What happened yesterday is terrible, and we feel that France is under attack, but this is not the main reason why we are here today. Israel has its own security issues and we are well-aware of that.”
Instead they said the reason for considering moving to Israel was because “we want our children to have a Jewish education our way, like in Israel, in a free manner, and so we came here to explore our options. Having said all that, of course we are also concerned over the constant threat that Jewish schools in France must cope with on a daily basis.”
The fair featured not only Israel-immigration actors, but also a stand manned by staff members of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee. The ministry’s assistant to the director-general Hila Sade-Katan explained that it has developed over the past year a special program for medical professionals who wish to make aliya, offering a benefit basket of up to NIS 50,000 to doctors and dentists interested in settling in the Galilee.
“Immigrating to Israel is an enormous personal decision on its own,” said Sade-Katan.
“But we actually meet many people interested in adding another layer of idealism and Zionism to this act, by moving to the Israeli periphery. I just met with a couple – a doctor and a dentist – they want to make aliya and to live in a region where they could really make a difference and contribute to the society. This is exactly the profiles we are looking for.
“The ministry is highly connected to the field, to real life, so we can indicate to these people where they are likely to find jobs and what are the challenges they will be facing.
Most people abroad, and even in Israel, are not aware that there are eight hospitals in the Galilee.”