The names of the four victims of Friday’s standoff at a kosher supermarket in Paris were released on Saturday by the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France (CRIF), a national organization representation French Jewry.
According to witnesses, Yohan Cohen (22), Philip Braham (40), Francois-Michel Saada (60s) and Yoav Hattab (21), were were shot in the early stages of the seven-hour standoff at the HyperCacher kosher market, which ended when police stormed the shop and killed the hostage taker — a 32-year-old man identified as Amedi Coulibaly.
Some media reports have identified Hattab as the son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunisia. A picture on his Facebook page shows him with a man bears something of a resemblance to Chief Rabbi Haim Bittan, although it is not clear if they are the same person and no link has been confirmed at this time.
Cohen was a resident of the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles, widely known as Little Jerusalem for its large Jewish population and studied at the Lycée ORT high school in Villiers-le-Bel.
Friends on Facebook described Cohen, who worked in the store, as strong and smart with a “heart of gold” as well as a calm person who rarely got angry and “always had a smile on his face.”
A witness, who did not identify Cohen by name, told France’s BFM-TV how one of the victims was shot in the head after struggling to wrest away one of the attackers’ guns. Other reports named Cohen as the one who attempted to confront the attackers.
Jeremie Agou, a regular shopper at the Hyper Cacher, told The Jerusalem Post that he saw Cohen every week when buying his groceries and that he felt “a little traumatized” after the shooting.
“It could have been me,” he said, adding that his office was located adjacent to the site of a shooting of policewoman Clarissa Jean-Philippe on Thursday and had been placed under lockdown by security forces.
Both attacks made a “big impression” and like many French Jews he is reevaluating his future there.
“If it happened there it can happen anywhere,” he told the Post, adding that while he “always saw my future in Israel, now [the attack] makes it even more pressing and I’m pushing my parents to sell their house and buy in Israel.”
However, he refused to hide, even if he is more circumspect when he walks the streets, as hiding would be a victory for terror, Agou said.
“We are not going to hide at home.” he said.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky recently told the Post that fifty thousand French Jews inquired regarding aliya in 2014. Almost seven thousand French Jews out of a population of six hundred thousand immigrated to Israel last year, double the number that arrived the previous year.
Following Friday’s attack, the worst against a Jewish target in France since the 2012 shooting attack at Toulouse’s Otzar HaTorah school which also killed four, some Twitter users began posting the hashtag #JeSuisJuif, French for I am a Jew.
French Jews were paying homage to victims today.
Jewish community leader Roger Cukierman, urged French Jews to stay instead of joining a wave of emigration to Israel, saying “it’s very important that there will remain a Jewish community in France.”
He told The Associated Press, “we will go on exercising our Jewish lives, freely. Whatever our adversaries want to impose on us.”
Jewish community members held a vigil Saturday for four people killed in the market in eastern Paris on Friday by a radical Muslim gunman.
France has western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations, which have seen increasing tensions in recent months.