Australian Jewish institutions tightened security in the wake of the hostage situation at the Lindt chocolate café in central Sydney.
On Monday, Iranian jihadist Man Haron Monis entered the Sydney cafe and used a gun to take the employees and patrons inside as hostages. He then forced some of the hostages to display an Islamic jihadist flag on the window of the cafe.
Monis, a self-described sheikh, previously faced charges for sexual assault and was convicted of sending threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. After several hours, at least six hostages managed to escape the cafe. By Tuesday (Australian time), 16 hours after the ordeal began, local security forces stormed the cafe and rescued the hostages. Four hostages were injured. Three people, including Monis, were killed.
A senior Jewish security official told Haaretz that “Jewish institutions across Australia are in lockdown, excursions have been canceled and tight security measures are in place.” Jewish children were held from school and activities, and at least one major Jewish institution in Sydney issued a “code red” emergency alert, sealing off the building and blocking all entries and exits for several hours.
Matzav.com previously reported that Israeli singer Benny Elbaz and his son Gad had visited the cafe Monday and left just minutes before the gunman entered.
“Several minutes before the kidnapping… all of our friends left after sitting there and hour and 15 minutes,” Elbaz wrote on Facebook. “After several moments, it happened! A miracle, a miracle, a miracle of Chanukkah. There are no other words.”