Israel Political Brief March 25, 2012: Israel’s Interior Ministry checking whether Toulouse terrorist visited Israel

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Israel checking whether Toulouse terrorist visited

Source: JTA, 3-25-12

Israeli authorities are investigating a French media report that Toulouse terrorist Mohammed Merah visited Israel.

Merah’s passport, found by French police after he was killed in a shootout Thursday, showed that he visited Israel, Syria, Iraq and Jordan, the Le Monde newspaper reported.

Merah had confessed during the more than 30-hour standoff at his apartment in Toulouse to a gun attack on the city’s Ozar Hatorah school on March 19 that killed Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, and his two young sons, as well as the 7-year-old daughter of the school’s principal. A self-described al-Qaida member, Merah also was wanted for the murders of three French troops.

Israel’s Interior Ministry said it had no record of a Merah’s name among tourists who entered the country in recent years, but police and secret service authorities said Sunday the possibility that he had visited under another identity was still being checked.

Asked about the possibility that Merah had come to Israel, perhaps to reconnoiter for an attack, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor told Channel Two television Saturday, “I heard about this in the press. I don’t know what the facts are, exactly.”

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Israel Brief March 21, 2012: Thousands attend funeral in Jerusalem for Toulouse Jewish school shooting victims

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Thousands attend funeral in Jerusalem for Toulouse victims

Source: JTA, 3-21-12

Thousands gathered in Jerusalem for the funeral of the four victims of the attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.

Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his two young sons Gabriel and Arieh, and Myriam Monsonego, the 7-year-old daughter of the Ozar Hatorah school’s headmaster, were buried Wednesday morning as police in Toulouse remained in a standoff with the chief suspect in the attack.

The school reopened Wednesday for the first time since Monday’s attack, in which a man riding a motorbike opened fire outside the school where students were waiting to enter the building at the start of the school day.

“Your grief, your pain is ours, too,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said at the funeral. “All of France is in shock.” Juppe said that France would work to fight against anti-Semitism.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also spoke at the funeral.

“In Toulouse and Jerusalem, in New York and Buenos Aires, Jews of all factions stand with us with deep pain in their hearts and tears in their eyes,” he said. “Again we stand before small, silent bodies, before small graves.”

Prior to the funeral, the parents of Myriam Monsonego and the pregnant wife and mother of the Sandlers arrived at a Jerusalem funeral home to say their final goodbyes to their loved ones, whose bodies arrived in Israel following a memorial service at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, with President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon in attendance, Haaretz reported.

In a meeting before the funeral, Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked Juppe in French for his actions in the wake of the attack, calling them a “special expression of the deep ties between France and Israel.”

“Your arrival and the actions of President Sarkozy in light of these harsh events prove that Israel and France are on the same front both in seeking peace and in the total war against terrorism,” Peres said. “The people in Israel and in the Diaspora communities were moved by the expressions of grief and consolation that have been voiced in France and by the government’s actions. Children are more precious than anything, and everything must be done to ensure their peace, in the future as well.”

“This was an abhorrent and unacceptable murder that can hardly be described,” Juppe said. “I came to express the solidarity of the French people with the people of Israel, which felt that its children were murdered. The blood of our two peoples was spilled in this murder.”

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