It’s a ghastly scenario that has unfortunately played itself out all too many times in the United States’ recent past.

A troubled lone gunman crosses the invisible line where reason and judgment are no longer functioning and unleashes his deadly barrage in a public forum, leaving a bloody massacre of innocent victims in his wake.

This time, however, the visceral impact was even more thunderous – due to the ages of most of the victims. On Friday morning, in the small Connecticut town of Newtown – ranked the fifth-safest city in America by the website NeighborhoodScout.com based on 2011 crime statistics – an attacker identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 26 people, 20 of them students between the ages of five and 10.

As the details began to unfold of the cold-blooded assassination of so many helpless children, Americans and people the world over were stunned and overwhelmed with grief.

Tearing up and repeatedly pausing to regain his composure, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Saturday, verbalizing what so many people were experiencing, “The majority of those who died today were children – beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.

They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.... Among the fallen were also teachers – men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.”

Leaders in Israel, no strangers to terror-related tragedies ending in equally horrific results, were quick to respond.

President Shimon Peres spoke for the Israeli people when he wrote in a letter to Obama, “We stand with you today in contemplation and grief over the atrocious, incomprehensible massacre of 20 children and six adults – educators – at Sandy Hook Elementary School. No experience with death can be likened to that of a parent’s loss of their child. No crime is more heinous than the killing of a child.”

In his letter to Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wrote that he was “shocked and horrified” by the savage massacre.

“We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring.”

Whether such murderous acts are carried out in the name of some warped ideology – as they often are in Israel – or simply the action of a very disturbed young man, as the Newtown massacre appears to be, the grief is the same for the victims’ families and for the rest of the civilized world.

The motive for the homicidal outburst remains unclear, but what has been revealed about Lanza is that he was a troubled young man, who according to his brother Ryan suffered from a personality disorder, augmented either by autism or Asperger’s syndrome. He also lived in a home that was filled with guns.

His mother Nancy was reportedly an avid gun collector and, according to one neighbor, would often go target-shooting with her children. Ironically, police reports indicate that she was her son’s first victim before he headed to the school to carry out his unholy mission.

Even though security considerations necessitate the prevalence of guns in Israeli society, there are stringent procedures in place that screen who is able to own a gun for his or her private use. Whether such measures have contributed to the relatively rare occurrences of “lone gunman” incidents here, invoking tougher measures in obtaining firearms in the US is an issue that will undoubtedly be debated fiercely in the wake of Newtown.

President Obama hinted as much that it might be time to take on the powerful National Rifle Association lobby when he said in his remarks that “we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

But that can only happen after the shock of the loss of the angelic children, representing the future of the human race, and of the slain adults – like first grade teacher Victoria Soto, who shielded her students from Lanza and was gunned down in the process – begins to dissipate.

Obama concluded his statements by saying that “this evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another.”

There were many parents in Israel who did the same thing.

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