A suspected arson attack on a French kosher grocery store has revived fears over anti-Semitism, three years to the day since an assault on a Jewish supermarket by a gunman.

A partial view taken on January 9, 2018 shows the Promo & Destock store, a French kosher grocery store in Creteil, south of Paris, after it was destroyed in an arson attack which has revived fears over anti-Semitism.
A partial view taken on January 9, 2018 shows the Promo & Destock store, a French kosher grocery store in Creteil, south of Paris, after it was destroyed in an arson attack which has revived fears over anti-Semitism. (AFP)

A suspected arson attack on a French kosher grocery store revived fears over anti-Semitism on Tuesday, three years to the day since an assault on a Jewish supermarket by a gunman.

Prosecutors said the store in the southern Paris suburb of Creteil caught fire overnight, days after it was daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti. 

"The damage is believed to be very severe," Creteil prosecutor Laure Beccuau said.

A source close to the police probe said it was "too soon to discuss motives" though Beccuau said investigators do not believe the fire was an accident.

French police officers stand on January 9, 2018 outside a Hyper Cacher supermarket adjacent to the Promo & Destock store, the French kosher grocery store in Creteil, south of Paris.
French police officers stand on January 9, 2018 outside a Hyper Cacher supermarket adjacent to the Promo & Destock store, the French kosher grocery store in Creteil, south of Paris. (AFP)

The Promo & Destock store was one of two neighbouring kosher shops in Creteil that were daubed with swastikas last Wednesday.

Israel's ambassador to France Aliza Bin Noun called the fire a "shameful provocation" on the third anniversary of the January 9, 2015 attack at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

Gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed three customers and an employee in an attack that triggered deep concern over growing anti-Semitism.

That attack came two days after Coulibaly's close friends Said and Cherif Kouachi gunned down 11 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, kicking off a wave of militant attacks in France.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (4th L), French President Emmanuel Macron (5th L), French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (6th L), French Government's Spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux (C), President's wife Brigitte Macron (6th R) and French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen 95th R) pay their respect during a memorial ceremony outside the Hyper Casher supermarket to pay a tribute to the shoppers at the kosher store who were killed three years ago by a gunman in Paris, January 7, 2018.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (4th L), French President Emmanuel Macron (5th L), French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (6th L), French Government's Spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux (C), President's wife Brigitte Macron (6th R) and French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen 95th R) pay their respect during a memorial ceremony outside the Hyper Casher supermarket to pay a tribute to the shoppers at the kosher store who were killed three years ago by a gunman in Paris, January 7, 2018. (AFP)

'Deep-rooted' anti-Semitism 

That year, a record 7,900 French Jews emigrated to Israel, many of them citing increased fears over anti-Semitism.

Though the exodus has since slowed, a string of anti-Semitic crimes have continued to worry France's large Jewish community.

In April 2017, a Jewish woman was murdered, pushed from a third-floor window by a Muslim neighbour, while a Jewish family was beaten, held hostage and robbed in what rights groups said was a hate crime. 

Former prime minister Manuel Valls told Europe 1 radio that more needed to be done to tackle anti-Semitism, which he said had become "deeply rooted" in France.

"What has changed over the past three years is the awareness of this level of anti-Semitism," he said.

Valls said French society as a whole had failed to mobilise in support of Jews following attacks such as the 2012 shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse in which four people were killed, three of them children.

"These are crimes that must be prosecuted and condemned, we need to do more," he said.

Abdelkader Merah, the brother of the militant who carried out the school attack, was handed a 20-year jail sentence in November in a trial that reopened wounds for French Jews.

He was convicted of encouraging his brother Mohamed to carry out a shooting spree targeting Jews and French soldiers, though he was cleared of having a direct role in the attacks.

Source: AFP