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Nice’s defiant Jews to gather on Shabbat despite terrorist attack

(JTA) — Nice’s Jewish community will hold Shabbat activities in a spirit of solidarity and

defiance after a terrorist killed scores of people in the city in southern France.

A 30-year- old man drove a rented white truck through a crowded promenade in the

coastal resort city on Thursday night shortly after the annual firework show on Bastille

Day, BFMTV reported. He may have had accomplices who participated in the attack

itself, the channel reported. Over 80 people were killed.

“We will not let this affect us, we will not let fear affect or damage the life of our

community, just as France will not let fear of terrorism change it,” Yossef Yitschok

Pinson, the rabbi of Nice’s Chabad House, told JTA Friday. Synagogue services and

community events will go on as planned, he said.

In addition to the fatalities, the attack resulted in severe injuries to at least 18 people

and a few other people were lightly wounded. The identities of the victims have not yet

been made known. At least five of the wounded are Jews, according to Pinson. French

government officials reported that the death toll was at least 84 people.

“The truck left a trail of blood as it tore through the crowd,” said Pinson, citing eye-

witness testimonies. One witness to the attack was “deeply traumatized by what she

saw,” he said. “Body parts, people screaming, blood everywhere and very, very difficult

sights.”

Unlike Paris, Nice had never seen a terrorist attack of the scale witnessed Thursday.

“Although it is part of the reality of life in France that something like this can happen, it is

shocking to see it in Nice,” Pinson added.

The driver, who has a criminal record involving violence but not terrorism, barrelled

through the crowd that had gathered on the Promenade des Anglais to watch fireworks

on France’s national day, according to the BFMTV television channel.

President Francoise Hollande said that an “attack with terrorist characteristics cannot be

denied.” He added that France’s state of emergency, declared in November following a

lethal series of terrorist attacks in Paris, may be extended and that some army

reservists may be drafted. The driver, who fired a gun into the crowd, was killed by

return fire. His name was not immediately released.

Nice, which is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is an international tourist

destination that also draws hundreds of thousands of local French tourists in summer,

as well as many European Jews who come to Nice because it has a permanent Jewish

population of 25,000 with kosher shops and synagogues, in addition to the Chabad

House.

But the summer crowd has not yet arrived, Pinson, the rabbi, told JTA. “They usually

come in August, then there are far more Jews in town,” he said.

Following the attack, Jewish groups joined other faith groups, heads of state and

international organizations in condemning the attack.

President Barack Obama said in a statement:  “We stand in solidarity and partnership

with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack. We know

that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and

tragic loss of life.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Friday that his country

“condemns in the strongest terms last night’s horrific attack in Nice.”

Israelis, he added, “stand united with the people of France today” and “Israel is ready to

help the French government fight this evil until it is defeated.”

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor spoke of his outrage, as well as

“pain and sadness,” following the attack.

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