A damaged windscreen of a truck which ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“Europe once again finds itself in shock,” a top European rabbi said Tuesday, the morning after a deadly attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, which killed 12 people and wounded 48 others.
“This was a cowardly attack on people preparing for their religious holidays in a joyful environment,” said Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis.
German police said that investigators assume the driver of a truck that ploughed into a crowd at the market did so intentionally in a suspected terrorist attack.
Goldschmidt called on religious leaders around the world to speak up in the face of such attacks, which he remarked have become too frequent.
“We must take every opportunity to stress how it is our responsibility to combat extremism in any form. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the loved ones affected by this tragic event,” he added.
Rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin, Yehuda Teichtel, said "our hearts are with the families of the victims."
At the time of the attack, the rabbi was at a community event, which he left to rush to the scene of the attack to offer his help.
"I first heard about the attack from a few concerned relatives of people who were at the area in question," he said, adding that he has since received a flood of calls from people from all over the world, and had been in close contact with the police regarding the identity of the victims.
Berlin Orthodox Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal at the scene of the Berlin Christmas market truck ploughing
Meanwhile, the Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia expressed his condolences to the victims of the attack via Twitter.
“With all my heart with the people of Berlin and all the people of Germany. My prayers accompany you,” he wrote, adding the hashtags #Berlin, #Breitscheidplatz and “#ichbineinBerliner” — a quote which means “I am a Berliner” from a 1963 speech by US President John F. Kennedy in West Berlin.
From Israel, MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), head of the Israel-Germany Parliamentary Friendship Group, sent a letter Tuesday morning to his German counterpart MP Volker Beck. In it, he expressed Israel's condolences to the German people and especially to the residents of the capital.
"Terrorism has become a common camp of all the advocates of democracy, and threatens democratic society and Western civilization. Only if we are united and determined will we succeed in defeating it. "JTA contributed to this report.