Israel mourns as victims of French shootings buried (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Yoav Lemmer 03/21/12)
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Thousands of weeping mourners attended the funerals at a Jerusalem
cemetery on Wednesday of three French-Israeli children and a teacher
killed in a shooting spree at a Jewish school in France.
Among the 2,000 or so people gathered at the sprawling Givat Shaul
cemetery on the western outskirts of Jerusalem were French Foreign
Minister Alain Juppe and some 50 relatives and family friends, who
landed in Israel shortly after dawn.
Four coffins containing the bodies of 30-year-old teacher Jonathan
Sandler, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 4, and seven-year-old Myriam
Monsonego, were flown from Toulouse to Paris on Tuesday before
continuing to Israel, where the two bereaved families had asked that
their loved ones be buried.
At the cemetery, mourners gathered around the four bodies -- those of
the teacher and his two sons wrapped in a white prayer shawl, while
the girl´s body was wrapped in a blue shroud embroidered with gold.
All four were shot dead early on Monday morning when a gunman,
believed to be an Islamic extremist, opened fire on parents and
children at Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, in what was the third
such shooting in the area in eight days.
As a rabbi intoned verses from the Book of Psalms, Myriam´s
distraught parents were inconsolable as they stood before her
shrouded body. Eva Sandler meanwhile wept over her dead husband and
two young sons.
Both families were supported by friends and relatives, an AFP
"He who looks for a justification for hatred, needs to know that
there is no explanation for hatred," said parliamentary speaker
Reuven Rivlin in a brief address to the mourners.
"There is no explanation for the murder of many pupils in Toulouse,"
he said. "There is not, and there will never be any explanation for
acts of terror against Jews wherever such things happen."
Speaking shortly before the funerals, Juppe said the Toulouse attack
had bound Israel and France together.
"In some ways, it was the blood of our two countries that flowed on
Monday at the Ozar Hatorah school," he told reporters after meeting
Israeli President Shimon Peres, saying he had come "to share in the
grief of the Monsonego and Sandler families."
France has launched a massive manhunt for the gunman behind Monday´s
attack on the school, with the killer believed to be responsible for
two other deadly shootings which left three soldiers dead in the same
As the plane headed for Israel, elite French police mounted a pre-
dawn raid on a property in Toulouse where a 24-year-old man claiming
to be linked to Al-Qaeda was holed up inside a building, sources
close to the investigation told AFP.
French police named the suspect as Mohammed Merah and said he was of
The suspect told officers he wanted to avenge Palestinian children
killed in the conflict with Israel and to attack the French army,
France´s Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.
Monday´s bloody assault sparked horrified denunciations from across
France and around the world, particularly in Israel, and prompted
police to impose an unprecedented terror alert in the southwest as
they sought the killer.
French investigators believe the gunman also killed three soldiers in
two other attacks last week.
The soldiers were French citizens of North African origin, while
another who was critically wounded in the attack was black and from
the French West Indies.
Israel´s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon hailed the ongoing
police operation unfolding in Toulouse and thanked Juppe for
France´s "urgent action to find the assailants and bring them to
"Today, all Israel is in pain and mourning over the deaths of
innocent children and a dedicated father," he said after greeting the
minister and the families of the dead as they landed in Israel.
The school shootings sparked a wave of revulsion across the world,
particularly in Israel, where many commentators expressed concern
over the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. (Copyright © 2012 Agence
France Presse. 03/21/12)
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