French President Francois Hollande announced 7,000 of the 10,000 soldiers deployed on the country’s streets after the Islamist attacks in January will remain permanently.
French police have been on high alert after Islamist gunmen left 17 people dead over three days in attacks on the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish grocery store and police.
The military patrols will guard sensitive sites throughout France in light of the threat of more attacks. France's miliary presence in the African Sahel region and the Central African Republic has also raised the domestic threat level.
Although Hollande called the soldiers’ presence a “significant effort … even a very big effort” in light of its stretch on the burgeoning French budget, a French official who requested anonymity said that the presence of soldiers could not stem terror attacks.
Speaking to the AFP, the official said, "The number of targets has exploded. There are two or three thousand, maybe four thousand, people identified or suspected of evil intentions."
Counter-terrorism experts in France warned last month that the threat of Islamist attacks in France had reached a level “without precedent.”
According to French authorities, close to 800 French jihadists have joined the fight in Syria and Iraq. Four hundred are reportedly still fighting, while 260 have left. An Iraqi news outlet, Shafaq News, quoting French anti-terror agencies, reported Sunday that more than 100 French jihadis had been killed in the conflict.
Listed among the dead are two teenage boys, aged 12 and 14, who were taken by their mother – an extremist from Toulouse — to the conflict zone to fight. The boys were featured in a propaganda video.
French anti-terror agencies also reported that another 800 French extremists have either left France to join the conflict or expressed their interest in travelling to Syria.
A mob of 40 Palestinian supporters attacked two Jewish residents on Boulevard Voltaire in Paris’ 11 arrondissement, Last Friday afternoon in Paris. The attackers were members of the anti-Israel organizations Gaza Firm as well as BDS supporters (the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement against Israel), according to security guards in the Jewish community,.
The attack took place on the same street where Ilan Halimi, 23, a French Jew was kidnapped by a Muslims gang, tortured for weeks and killed.
A recent U.N. panel condemned France for the “trivialization” of hate speech, which has been linked to the rise of violent anti-Semitism in France.
As Paris police investigated the attack, they warned Jewish businesses in the area about the possibility of more attacks. Witnesses reported members of the Jewish community were volunteering to guard businesses on the street.