Bodies of Toulouse shooting victims arrive in Israel for burial (HAŽARETZ NEWS) y Yair Ettinger, Jonathan Lis, Dana Weiler-Polak and Anshel Pfeffer 03/21/12)
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The bodies of the four Jews who were shot and killed at the Ozar
Hatorah school in Toulouse on Monday were flown to Israel Tuesday and
will be interred Wednesday in Jerusalem.
Relatives, students and teachers spent Tuesday morning and the
previous night at the school, reading Psalms over the coffins of
Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, the two small coffins of his sons, Aryeh and
Gabriel, and of Miriam Monsonego, the daughter of the school´s
principal, Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego.
The atmosphere was restrained, but there was a particularly difficult
moment when Rabbi Sandler´s wife, Eva Sandler, joined the group, and
spoke quietly about her husband. "He gave his all to study," she said.
The family had come to France from Israel in July. Now Eva Sandler
returns to Israel a young widow in the advanced stages of pregnancy
and with a two-year-old daughter.
French security services continue to assume that the person who shot
and killed the victims, and who apparently also shot to death two
French soldiers last week, belongs to the extreme right and is a neo-
The French authorities continue to hold to the theory of an extreme
right-wing perpetrator, although three ex-soldiers who belong to a
neo-Nazi group were interrogated and released Tuesday.
Hundreds of police and intelligence personnel are involved in the
high-profile investigation of the attack.
At Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris a memorial service was held in
the presence of Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon before the
caskets were placed aboard an El Al aircraft for the flight to Israel.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe will attend the funerals today.
Hundreds of people, including Christians and Muslims, continued
Tuesday to stream to Jules Dalou Street to place flowers near the
school and light candles.
Nasser Amin, who works for the national railway and arrived at the
site on his bike to leave flowers, said: "I came to show solidarity.
They were only children. While they are fighting over foolishness in
the Middle East we in France have to remain united."
French political parties and presidential candidates officially
suspended electioneering for 48 hours, although Sarkozy and his
senior ministers continued to appear at memorial services and make
aggressive speeches about the need to fight terror and increase
security around educational institutions. Such appearances are seen
as likely to help the president´s flagging results in the polls.
Sarkozy also attended a memorial ceremony at school in Paris, near a
monument for French citizens killed in the Holocaust, where he
observed the moment of silence that was declared Tuesday throughout
France at 11 A.M.
Among the senior ministers, military and police officials appearing
at the ceremony at Gan Rashi - the Jewish elementary school in
Toulouse where the three younger victims of the Ozar Hatorah shooting
were students - was French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet. A week
before the attack, Longuet had met with Jewish community leaders and
spoken with them about the need for heightened awareness against
His remarks were an indirect response to earlier criticism by leaders
of the Jewish community after the level of security was lowered
around Jewish schools.
Jewish community leaders conceded Tuesday that the privately funded
guarding of schools had been reduced to lower costs so more parents
could be persuaded to enroll their children in Jewish schools.
Armed police and Jewish volunteer guards Tuesday beefed up protection
around Toulouse´s three Jewish schools and 12 synagogues.
Police were also stationed at Muslim schools.
Aryeh Ben-Simhon, president of the Toulouse Jewish community, said
Tuesday : "The government must understand that Jews are always a
target and I hope they will not reduce protection for the next two or
three months. Clearly, everything they are saying now is connected to
the current political situation."
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said guards had been posted at
all schools in southwestern France and would remain deployed even
after the killer was caught.
For the first time Tuesday, a red alert was issued in France - its
highest level of readiness before a general emergency is declared.
In Paris the general prosecutor, Francois Moulins, announced at a
press conference that the three neo-Nazi ex-soldiers detained had
been questioned and released.
The police said they were still pursuing the neo-Nazi connection
although other directions were also being investigated.
"This is a very determined man who plans his steps," Moulins said,
addding that the police believe the same perpetrator is behind the
school shootings and two other shooting incidents.
Gueant said school surveillance cameras show that the shooter was
holding a video camera and may have recorded the attack to post on
Gueant told French Jewish leaders in a closed conversation that the
shooter was believed to be an extreme right-winger or a neo-Nazi and
that Islamicists are not considered likely to have been involved
because no claim of responsibility was issued.
Meanwhile, at a special meeting of the Knesset Committee for
Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Tuesday, French
Ambassador Kristoff Bigot spoke of French solidarity with its Jewish
community. "We are all part of the school," he said.
Noting that campaigning had been suspended in France by mutual
decision because "this is not a time for conflict," the ambassador
also said: "The monstrous murderer is the same person who murdered
three Muslim soldiers last week in the same area."
MK Danny Danon (Likud ) said at the committee meeting that he would
work toward parliamentary legislation worldwide to impose the death
penalty on murder in an anti-Semitic context.
Representatives of the French Jewish community told the committee
that the French authorities had beefed up security around schools,
which is usually funded by the community.
There has been no guard at Ozar Hatorah for the past 18 months, they
said, due to budgetary constraints and because Toulouse is a quiet
Meyer Habib, deputy head of CRIF, the French Jewish community´s
umbrella organization, told the committee by phone that the incident
at Ozar Hatorah was a first: "No children were ever killed at point-
blank range at a school - not even during World War II when they took
them away in trains."
Lea Marcou, 88, Jonathan Sandler´s aunt, who lives in Jerusalem and
was in daily contact with him before he left for France, said Tuesday
that when she visited the family in France when Sandler was a
boy, "he would say he wanted to come back with me." Sandler studied
at the Ozar Hatorah boarding school in middle school, and remained in
Toulouse for his university studies. During his first year, he was to
have taken an exam on the Sabbath and he asked his tutor if he could
postpone. "The teacher told him that if he wants to keep the
commandments of his religion he should go to Israel, so he went,"
Meanwhile, Israel´s National Insurance Institute bowed to public
pressure and Tuesday announced that the NII had reversed its decision
not to pay for the transportation of Sandler´s body and his burial in
Israel on the grounds that he was not an Israeli citizen. Sandler´s
wife is Israeli, as are his children who were killed in the shooting.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin praised NII director Esther Dominicini
for the decision at Tuesday´s Knesset session, saying that it had
saved the State of Israel from "quite a shame." (© Copyright 2012
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