Jews pray in Belgium (illustration)
Jews pray in Belgium (illustration)Johanna Geron/Flash 90

Days after a lethal Belgian raid on Islamist terrorists and with the country on high alert, Rabbi Abraham Gigi, Chief Rabbi of Belgium and representative for the Conference of European Rabbis, exposed how the Jewish community passed the Shabbat under heavy guard.

"A quiet Shabbat passed for the Jewish community in Belgium, albeit a tense one," said the rabbi, noting that hundreds of soldiers were deployed to secure the synagogues, allowing Jews to turn out to pray and walk the streets in security.

Rabbi Gigi said the Belgian government has announced 12 steps to be taken in the war on Islamist terror, with the move creating a feeling "that there's someone who finally is dealing with terror as is needed."

Taking aim at recent calls to better allow Jews to defend themselves, he said "the Jewish community leaders and council heads are furious at marginal sources in the community who called to give weapons to the rabbis. That's a true danger and unacceptable. It's as if we declare we don't have faith in the security services obligated to defend our security."

"Also, tomorrow, G-d forbid, the Imams and others will ask to have weapons. This is an irresponsible announcement which brings a tragedy and impression of anarchy upon us," claimed Rabbi Gigi.

While Rabbi Gigi belittled the request, prominent rabbis including Rabbi Menachem Margolindirector general of the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) and the European Jewish Association (EJA), was among those asking for more Jews to be given arms licenses.

He said his call for greater arming of the Jewish community was due to the clear failure of European governments to protect their Jewish communities, after two weeks ago four Jews were gunned down by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist Amedy Coulibaly at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Terror cell leader still at large

In the last two days, Belgian security forces have taken up posts guarding sites including Jewish schools and institutions, as well as the American and Israeli embassies, given their potential as terror targets.

The Belgian chief rabbi Rabbi Gigi said he completely relies on the security forces "who do their work as required, and next Monday, when the gates of the schools and educational institutions are opened, thousands of soldiers will secure them to preserve the security of the children and parents."

Last week a large terrorist cell said to be planning an attack was raided in Belgium, with two Islamist terrorists killed in a gunfight that broke out during the operation.

Following the raid in Verviers, Belgian police arrested 13 people across Belgium, five of whom were later charged with "participating in the activities of a terrorist group." Weapons, bomb-making materials, police uniforms and fake documents were found during searches of their homes.  

The suspected mastermind of the cell, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, is a notorious 27-year-old jihadist who spent time in Syria with Islamic State (ISIS).

The hunt continues for Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan extraction, and according to Belgian reports the American CIA and Israeli Mossad are joining in to assist the manhunt.

A source in the Greek police reported on Saturday night that four people were arrested in Athens for suspected connections to the Belgian terror cell.