French police on Friday shot dead an Algerian man armed with a knife and an iron bar, who tried to set fire to a synagogue in the northern city of Rouen, AFP reported.

Emergency services were alerted after a fire was detected at the synagogue, with the man spotted on its roof brandishing an iron bar and a kitchen knife, the prosecutor handling the case said.

Smoke was coming out of one window at the synagogue, Rouen prosecutor Frederic Teillet told reporters.

The attacker ran towards one police officer threatening him with a knife. The officer then "shot him five times, hitting him four times", the prosecutor said. The man died at the scene.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters that the attack was an "antisemitic act against a place that is sacred to the Republic". He added that he regretted the "unacceptable, despicable" violence against Jewish people in France.

The man was an Algerian whose application for a residency permit in France for health treatment had been rejected by the authorities, Darmanin said.

Separate investigations into the fire at the synagogue and into the circumstances of the death of the man have been opened, prosecutors said.

The incident is the latest in a host of antisemitic attacks around the world. The attacks have spiked since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the war in Gaza which followed.

Earlier this week, vandals defaced the Wall of the Righteous, a memorial for the French citizens who risked their lives to save Jews during the Second World War, at the Mémorial de la Shoah Holocaust museum in Paris.

The vandals, who wore hoods to conceal their identities, painted dozens of blood-red hands on the memorial, photographs from the scene show.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the vandalism, saying it "damages the memory" both of those who saved Jews in the Holocaust as well as the victims.

"The (French) Republic, as always, will remain steadfast in the face of odious antisemitism," he added.

A recently published report by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that French Jews live in fear of antisemitism, with a majority having directly experienced antisemitism.

According to the 900-page report, 86% of French Jews feel that they live under the threat of antisemitic attacks, and 56% feel that the level of threat is significant. 44% reported that following the Hamas massacre of October 7, they refrain from wearing items that would identify them as Jewish in public, such as kippahs and Stars of David.

Previously, CRIF, the umbrella organization of the Jewish organizations in France, published a report which found that antisemitism in France has increased by 1,000% since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced this month that 366 antisemitic incidents had been recorded in France in the first quarter of 2024, a 300-percent increase compared to the first three months of 2023.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)