Thousands attend Jerusalem funeral


MOURNING THE VICTIMS:THOUSANDS OF mourners in Jerusalem yesterday took part in an emotional farewell to the four victims of Monday’s shooting at the Jewish school in Toulouse.

There was an outpouring of grief as the bodies of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler (30), his two children, Gabriel (4) and Arieh (5), and the other murdered child, Miriam Monsonego (7), wrapped in white shrouds, were laid to rest.

Thirty people attending the funerals required medical treatment after fainting or suffering from heat exhaustion.

The ceremony took place just after police in Toulouse laid siege on the home of the suspected killer.

In his eulogy, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said Jews worldwide stood in pain before the small, silent bodies. “The Jewish people face wild and insatiable animals, wild animals made crazy by their hatred. The entire house of Israel weeps over these murders. The state of Israel has the duty to ensure that Jewish lives can be maintained anywhere in the world.”

French foreign minister Alain Juppé travelled from France to Israel on the aircraft bringing the four bodies. He said France was committed to fighting terrorism and anti-Semitism. “Your grief, your pain is ours too. All of France is in shock. Your children are being laid to rest in Israel but their memories will be cherished in the land where they were born, in France.”

Jonathan Sandler lived in Israel for many years before returning to France. His children held joint citizenship.

Avishai Monsonego, the eldest brother of Miriam, in his graveside eulogy asked God to give his parents the strength “to endure the worst trial that can be endured”. Israel’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, broke down in tears during his eulogy. He said hatred of Jews by Israel’s enemies – “Esau’s hatred of Jacob” – would never change, and that God would “avenge the spilled blood” of the victims.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Mr Juppé after reports from Toulouse quoted the suspect as saying he carried out the shooting to avenge the killing of Palestinian children.

Mr Netanyahu praised the “clear and decisive stand” taken by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the French government.

He told Mr Juppé that a distinction must be made between such deliberate attacks against civilians and children and unintentional strikes against civilians that were part of legitimate actions to fight terrorism.

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad said extremists must stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their acts of violence. Criminals, he said, should stop marketing terrorist acts in the name of Palestine.