A makeshift memorial to the victims of the attack on the Paris Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in January 2015. (US State Department) (US State Department)
Hyper Cacher

One of the hostages held by an Islamic terrorist at a Paris kosher grocery store on Friday said he survived by telling the attacker that he was a Muslim.

Eli Vaknin, a survivor of the terror attack on Friday at the Hyper Cacher (French for “Super Kosher”) supermarket in Paris, where four Jews were murdered in cold blood, told IDF Radio that he survived by convincing the terrorist that he was a Muslim.

The terrorist “was very muscular, with two guns, a commando knife and a bulletproof vest. He got out of a car driven by a woman, entered the supermarket and shot four men,” Vaknin said.

Yohan Cohen, 22, Yoav Hattab, 21, Philippe Braham, 45, Francois-Michel Saada, 55.

Murder victims, from the left: Yohan Cohen, 22; Yoav Hattab, 21; Philippe Braham, 45, and Francois-Michel Saada, 55.

Terrorist Amedy Coulibaly, 32, entered a kosher food market on Friday and murdered four French Jews before French security forces managed to kill him.

Coulibaly, reportedly affiliated with the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror organization, entered the supermarket at about 1 p.m., when the store was packed with shoppers preparing for the Sabbath. He opened fire on the crowd, killing Yoav Hattab, 21, son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunis; Philippe Braham, 45; Yohan Cohen, 22, and Francois-Michel Saada, 55. Cohen was reportedly killed while trying to snatch Coulibaly’s weapon after he had threatened a child. The terrorist immediately shot Cohen in the head.

The terrorist then began checking that all entrances were blocked, Vaknin told IDF Radio. “He started to give us a speech on how he would kill all of the Jews, Christians and infidels, and said he was from ISIS [Islamic State]. I let him scream like a dog as I calmed everyone down.

“I told him I was from Morocco and he asked me if I was a Muslim,” Vaknin continued. “I told him that I was a Moussawi – a son of Moses and Amram, and he thought that this was a faction within Islam.”

Amedy Coulibaly (L)and Hayat Boumeddiene, the kosher market terrorists. (Source: French police)

Amedy Coulibaly (L)and Hayat Boumeddiene, the kosher market terrorists. (Source: French police)

“At a certain point we became ‘friends,'” Vaknin explained. “He asked in Arabic where there was an internet connection. Then he connected and relayed his demands to the TV station. Meanwhile, I began sending messages through my mobile phone, and the police told me to leave it open so they could hear what was going on inside.”

Marie, another hostage, described for Ynet the first moments of the attack. Upon entering the supermarket, “he shot two people at the entrance. One of the customers tried to take one of his weapons but was unable to fire. [Coulibaly] shot him in the head immediately.” said Marie. The brave customer was revealed to be Yohan Cohen.

Refusing to Live in Fear

According to Marie, one of the supermarket employees managed to hide and to instruct police forces on how to enter the site, while another person fled to an elevator, carrying the keys to the supermarket with him. He made it to the top floor, where he left the building using an emergency exit. He was then able to give the keys to police, assisting them in the eventual takedown.

One of the surviving hostages escorted by police. (Photo: screenshot)

One of the surviving hostages escorted by police to safety. (Photo: screenshot)

Despite the horrific scenes that she witnessed, Marie says she will not be intimidated. “I have no intention of staying locked up at home and being scared.”

While holding the hostages, Coulibaly had threatened to kill them all if Said and Cherif Kouachi – the terrorists who committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre two days earlier and were surrounded by security forces in northern Paris at the time – were not released.

Fearing that Coulibaly would carry through with his threat, police waited until he began praying and then stormed the supermarket, freeing all the remaining hostages and killing the terrorist.

Just before they entered the kosher shop, security forces stormed the complex where the Kouachi brothers were located. Both were killed, and their hostage was released.

Police locked down schools in the vicinity, and a nearby Jewish school was evacuated, according to Tablet magazine.

It was also the first time since the Nazi era that the famous Grand Synagogue of Paris was closed for Sabbath services.

Coulibaly was reportedly helped by 26-year-old terrorist Hayat Boumeddiene, who is France’s most wanted woman. It is believed that she managed to escape to Syria via Turkey.

Reports conflict as to whether she accompanied Coulibaly to the kosher supermarket or had already left the country earlier in the month.

On Thursday, a day before the supermarket slaughter, Coulibaly murdered a French policewoman and critically wounded a municipal worker.

Murdered ‘Because They Were Jews’

“These French citizens were struck down in a cold-blooded manner and mercilessly because they were Jews,” read a statement issued by the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF).

Simone Rodan-Benazquen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Paris office, cited a number of recent violent anti-Semitic attacks in France, saying: “We have warned that the menace of rising anti-Semitism threatens French society at large. The Charlie Hebdo massacre makes clear that the war against France’s democratic values is in high gear.”

By: United with Israel

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