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The impact of the war between Israel and Hamas is reverberating throughout Europe


The impact of the war between Israel and Hamas is causing reverberations throughout Europe. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that tensions are especially high in France and Belgium - especially in Brussels, the capital - two places currently on high terrorist alert.


ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: As a soccer game got underway Monday night in a Brussels stadium between the Belgian and Swedish national teams, an attacker gunned down and killed two Swedish fans on the city's streets.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Non-English language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: The Euro 2024 qualifier soccer match was stopped, and thousands of fans were confined to the stadium for several hours while police secured the streets. After an all-night manhunt, the alleged attacker was found and killed in a scuffle with police. The Tunisian national, living illegally in Belgium, had professed allegiance to ISIS in a video online.


BEARDSLEY: A day before the Brussels attack, thousands of people gathered in shock and solidarity in the main plaza of the northern French city of Arras. They were mourning a high school literature teacher whose throat had been slit by a Chechen-born Islamist radical and former student.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in French).

BEARDSLEY: That attack came almost three years to the day of the beheading of another French teacher by another Chechen-born extremist. Teachers union leader Catherine Piecuch spoke at Sunday's gathering.


CATHERINE PIECUCH: (Through interpreter) It is unbearable to have to relive the same horror. Our public secular schools are again a target and our teachers attacked.

BEARDSLEY: The 20-year-old suspect, who is now in custody, also made a video professing allegiance to ISIS. The Council of French Muslims, which represents France's Islamic community, firmly condemned the attack on the teacher and extended condolences to his family.



BEARDSLEY: "Our Europe is being shaken," said President Emmanuel Macron, who called for solidarity amidst what he said is a possible return of Islamist terrorism to Europe. Seven thousand French soldiers have been deployed in France, the nation with Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish populations. Officials are so jittery, the Louvre Museum has been evacuated twice since Saturday due to bomb threats. Officials attribute a surge in antisemitic threats in France to the Israel-Hamas war. In Israel, 21 French citizens were among those killed in the Hamas attacks. The mother of one of the 11 French Israeli hostages, Keren Scharf Schem, spoke on Israeli television.


KEREN SCHARF SCHEM: I'm begging the world to bring my baby back home. She only went to a party - to a festival party - to have some fun. And now she's in Gaza, and she's not the only one.

BEARDSLEY: Many people in France draw a comparison between the Hamas killings at the rave party in Israel's desert and the 2015 terrorist attack on Paris' Bataclan nightclub, where 90 mostly young people were murdered.


GABRIEL ATTAL: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Tuesday in the French parliament, Education Minister Gabriel Attal was angry. He said 179 students across the nation had purposely disrupted the minute of silence for France's slain teacher.


ATTAL: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: "That cannot be tolerated," said Attal, who said the worst offenders would be charged with apology for terrorism.


ATTAL: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: As the violence in the Middle East continues, France and other European countries remain on edge.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
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