An Israeli tourist in his 60s was seriously wounded when a truck rammed into a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday night, killing 12 people and wounding 48 others.
The whereabouts of his wife, who was believed to be with him, are unknown.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that the man, whose identity has not yet been released, is recovering from surgery in a Berlin hospital. Israel’s consul in the city went to the hospital and is in contact with the family.
Berlin Rabbi visited injured Israeli and prayed beside his bed
Berlin Chabad Rabbi Yehuda Teichtel also visited the wounded Israeli and was told by his doctors that, while he is no longer in life-threatening condition, he faces a long recovery.
In addition, the rabbi noted that he and his staff are in touch with all the hospitals in the city and are doing their utmost to find the man’s wife.
“I stood right next to the injured man and said some Psalms and prayed for his full recovery,” Teichtal said. “My community and I will continue praying for his health and we hope to hear good news about his wife, too.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the Berlin attack at a meeting on Tuesday with Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini.
“You come at a difficult time – not here, but in Europe,” Netanyahu said.
“There were deadly attacks yesterday in Ankara in which the Russian ambassador was killed. When you murder a diplomat, this is the height of terrorism.
“There appears to be a terrorist attack also in Germany, where German citizens were killed and an Israeli citizen was gravely wounded. We send our condolences to the government of Germany and to the families of the people that were killed and we wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. We will win this fight against the terrorists, and together we will win it faster,” he said.
Throughout the day, messages of condolence poured in from Jewish leaders around the world. “Europe once again finds itself in shock,” said Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis. “This was a cowardly attack on people preparing for their religious holidays in a joyful environment,” he said.
German police said that investigators assume the driver of the truck that plowed into a crowd at the market did so intentionally in a 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.
Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, expressed deep shock over the attack.
“In the pre-Christmas period, when our society relies on values like charity, goodness and peace, our country was once again hit by this vile attack,” he said. “Our thoughts are with the victims, their relatives and friends. We wish the wounded a speedy recovery.”
Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, described the assault as “an inhuman attack on our way of life and our culture. This cowardly murder fills us with horror and grief, and our thoughts are with the victims, their bereaved, the many injured and their families,” she said.
“Should the suspected terrorist attack in the midst of the German capital become substantiated, our worst fears have come true. For months, radical Islamists have been calling for attacks in Europe, mobilizing terrorists and agitating against our notion of a life in freedom and diversity,” she said.
“The horrifying pictures from the heart of Berlin unite democrats around the globe,” she continued.
“We are mourning the people who wanted to enjoy a happy evening in Advent, and who now became victims of inhuman hatred and unrestrained cruelty. This act is an attack on freedom, on our way of life, our values. Whether we want it or not: There is now a shadow on the upcoming Christmas and Hanukka. We must not be influenced in our way of life, but must stand up against those who do not share our values. Freedom needs defense, freedom needs security.”
Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia also expressed his condolences, 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, expressing Israel’s condolences to the German people and especially 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,” he wrote.
The American Jewish Committee also spoke out against the attack. The organization’s Berlin director, Deidre Berger, said, “Our hearts go out to the families of those murdered and we extend best wishes for the recovery of the injured felled by what appears to be the action of a terrorist.
“The purposeful assault on innocent Germans and tourists enjoying the Christmas season celebrations shattered so many lives in a moment.
It is yet another attack on our way of life, on our core democratic values of freedom and liberty,” Berger stated.JTA contributed to this report.