Fire Destroys Israeli Embassy in Paris | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.05.2002
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Fire Destroys Israeli Embassy in Paris

Officials say they cannot rule out the possibility of terrorism, but Israel's ambassador believes an electrical short circuit triggered the blaze.


A blaze early Thursday consumed the Israeli embassy in Paris.

A fire destroyed the Israeli embassy in Paris early Thursday morning, but officials say it is too early to determine its cause.

Israeli Ambassador Eli Barnavi said that although he could not rule out terrorism, he thought the fire was probably caused by an electrical short circuit. The embassy had been undergoing renovations at the time of the fire.

"The embassy is totally destroyed. At this moment, we have no indication of the cause of this fire," Paris police chief Jean-Paul Prost said.

The blaze broke out at 2 a.m. on Thursday morning on the first floor and quickly spread through the five-story embassy building, which is located in central Paris‘ tony Eighth District. Only the night guard was in the building when the fire broke out, but he escaped unharmed.

At least 5 of the 150 firemen fighting the blaze were injured, two of them seriously when a floor collapsed under them.

Top French politicians visited the scene of the fire, including Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and the country’s foreign and interior ministers. President Jacques Chirac also called Ambassador Barnavi to express his concern about the incident.

French police are investigating to determine whether the fire was connected to a string of anti-Semitic attacks that have rocked France in recent weeks. France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community.

The most recent string of high-profile incidents happened in March, when two French synagogues were attacked, one of which in Lyons caused heavy damage. A recent report listed 405 such incidents that have taken place since the Al Aqsa Intifada began in the Middle East in September 2000.

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