Reinforced security measures are required following the attack in Paris on December 2 to ensure that the Jewish Hanukkah festivities can take place peacefully, said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.
France’s security apparatus has been on its highest level of terror alert since October 13, following the murder of a teacher in Arras (Pas-de-Calais).
The alert level has remained in place since then due to the tensions arising due to the war between Israel and Hamas.
The system, called Vigipirate, has three levels: vigilance, sécurité renforcée (heightened security) and urgence attentat (attack emergency).
The highest alert level requires increased police presence, and at present involves up to 7,000 armed soldiers deployed to patrol vulnerable public places. Police can also be deployed to ensure heightened security in places deemed at risk.
Read more: What is France’s Vigipirate alert system?
In particular, a reinforced police deployment was required after hundreds of bomb threats were made to French airports in October, forcing their temporary closure and causing significant panic and disruption.
Speaking after the attack on December 2, Mr Darmanin highlighted the need for more security during Hanukkah, which runs from December 7 to 15.
“The threat of terrorism continues to weigh heavily on our country,” Mr Darmanin wrote in a communique to regional prefects. “And in the context of the continuing international tension due to the Israeli-Palestine conflict, we must maintain our extreme vigilance.”
Mr Darmanin went on to instruct France’s regional prefects to “apply heightened security surveillance as well as put a visible and static police presence when people are arriving and leaving [Hanukkah] services”.
This year Hanukkah comes after a disturbing wave of anti-semitism that swept France in November, with Stars of David daubed on the walls in Paris.