PM calls attack ‘savage,’ but points no fingers

Government official says Israel can help France in search for culprit if attack has "international footprint."

March 19, 2012 15:49
2 minute read.
French Police outside Jewish school after shooting

Toulouse France shooting police 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles )


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned France's Toulouse attack as a “savage crime,” but refrained from blaming anyone in particular for the murders.

By contrast, Netanyahu squarely blamed Iran for the attacks earlier this month on Israeli targets in Georgia and India just hours after they took place.

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“Today we had a savage crime in France that gunned down French Jews, among them children. It’s too early to say what the precise background for this act of murder is, but I think that we cannot rule out that there was a strong murderous anti-Semitic motive here,” he said at a Likud faction meeting. “I’m sure that Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, and his government will do their utmost to find the killer and we, in Israel, will do everything to help them in this task.”

One government official, who requested anonymity, explained that Israel had confidence in the French ability to find those behind the attack, but that if it turned out that the attack had an “international footprint,” then “we can help sometime.”

Diplomatic officials clarified that it was too early to draw conclusions as to who was behind the attacks, and that the possibilities ranged from Jihadists to neo-Nazis.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a statement saying that it was not clear whether this was “a terrorist attack, the action of criminals or a hate crime.” He said that Sarkozy, the rabbi of the community and French law enforcement officials immediately took action, and he was sure that those responsible would be “found and punished.”

“Only someone with demonic evil can carry out the horrible murder of small children in a school,” said Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Israel’s envoy in Paris, Yossi Gal, met the bereaved families, and it was decided that the victims would be brought to Israel for burial as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, condemnations of the attack came in from around the world.

The White House expressed strong outrage, with National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor saying, “We were deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack this morning against the teachers and students of a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse.”

“We stand with a community in grief,” he continued. “We join the government of France in condemning this unprovoked and outrageous act of violence in the strongest possible terms.”

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle issued a statement saying he was “deeply shocked” by the attack, adding that “there is no place in Europe for anti-Semitism and violence towards Jewish institutions or Jews.”

Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.

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