Jewish Paris victims to be buried in Israel

Netanyahu expected to eulogize them in the presence of their families at a state ceremony in Jerusalem.

January 11, 2015 16:31
3 minute read.
kosher shop victims

Victims of Paris kosher market attack (clockwise from top left), Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, François-Michel Saada, Yohan Cohen. (photo credit: FACEBOOK,JTA)


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The body of Yoav Hattab, 21, who dreamed of flying to Israel to make aliya, will now arrive in a coffin early Tuesday morning along with the remains of three other victims of last Friday’s terrorist attack at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to eulogize them in the presence of their families at a state ceremony at Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem.

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Hattab, the son of the chief rabbi of Tunis, had just returned one week earlier from a Taglit-Birthright trip.

He stood out during the 10-day trip for his humor, leadership skills, and love of Israel, said Nathan Levi, an Israeli student from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who took part in the trip.

They had met on the second day of the trip. Upon hearing his name, Levi said he had a brother who was also called Yoav.

“We’re all brothers,” Hattab responded.

“Straight away you can see what kind of a positive-thinking guy he was,” Levi said. “He was always smiling, he was always helping others.”

After he returned to France, he told Levi in a Facebook message, “now I am completely in love with Israel.”

Levi first heard of the attack on Facebook when someone posted a message that Hattab was in the supermarket. That was followed by another message that assured he was fine and then the sad news that he had been shot.

“It was a huge shock,” Levi said.

Levi said that there is a story out there, which he can not confirm, that Hattab was killed after he left a safe hiding place to try to wrest a gun away from the terrorist. That is the kind of thing he can imagine Hattab doing, Levi said – risking himself to help others.

Raphael Gottfirstein, who recruited Hattab for the Birthright trip, said that the young man had often worn an Israeli flag around his neck like a cape during the trip.

“He looked like superman and he was very much a superman,” said Gottfirstein.

According to media accounts, another of the victims, Yohan Cohen, 22, also tried to fight the terrorist. He tried grab his gun but the terrorist shot him.

Valerie Braham had no sense of the tragedy that was about to occur when she parted from her husband Philippe, 40, on Friday morning, with the normal words, “see you later,” “see you this evening,” she told Channel 2.

She first heard of the attack around 1:20 p.m. as she picked up her two children from school. Immediately she worried, because she had asked Philippe to pick up a few things for her, although typically they shopped on Thursday.

“I called him and he didn’t answer. He always answers, even when he is busy, he picks up and says ‘I will call you back in a few moments,’ so I started to worry. I sent him messages and then I felt that something was not right.”

“It was not clear that he would have gone to this kosher market, because there is a larger one near where he works,” she said. “But that is where he went.”

The terrorist entered the store and killed four people, one of which was her husband, she said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he tried to speak with the terrorist, it is like him. And it appears the terrorist did not like this,” Valerie said.

Initially, she did not know what to say to her children.

“The small ones do not understand. But my oldest daughter feels that something is not right. She sees that he is not here. So I told her that he was wounded. What am I suppose to say, that they took the person I loved most in the world, that they took half of me. I do not know how my children will grow up without a father,” she said.

The Brahams lost a child a number of years ago who is buried in Israel.

Philippe’s first wife and son also live in Israel, according to Ynet.

Valerie told Channel 2 that he would want to be buried there. “He should be there, with his son,” she said.

According to Ynet, Francois-Michel Saada, 64, had gone to Hyper Cacher to buy challah for Shabbat. When he saw that the shutters were rolled down as he approached the store, he thought it had closed early. Unaware that it was under siege, he begged to be let in. The terrorist shot him as he walked through the doors.

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