The France attacks could be the start of a new wave of worldwide terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Saturday night as he promised French Jews they had a home in Israel.
Netanyahu spoke to the media as he prepared to fly to Paris Sunday to join world leaders in a mass solidarity vigil to mourn 17 terror victims killed in France last week, including four Jews who died Friday during an attack on a kosher supermarket in the capital.
“These attacks in Paris are the continuation of extremist Islam’s war against our free civilization in the West, in the entire modern world and also in the moderate Arab states,” Netanyahu said.
“But if we ignore the true root of the problem, if we ignore the fact that extremist Islamic terrorism seeks to exterminate Western civilization as a whole, including the Jewish people – if we ignore this, what we are now seeing in Paris will be only the beginning.
These are not frightening words or prophecies of rage, this is the simple reality and the time has come to recognize it,” Netanyahu said.
To the Jews of France he said: “The State of Israel is not just the place to which you turn in prayer. The State of Israel is also your home. This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism. All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our country, which is also your country.”
Netanyahu is among many world leaders heading to Paris.
Those expected to attend Sunday’s solidarity vigil include Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron, Italy’s Matteo Renzi, Arab League representatives and some Muslim African leaders, as well as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Economic Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and, on behalf of the Knesset, former Shas chairman Eli Yishai also will attend the vigil to mark the worst assault on France’s homeland security in decades.
The three days of violence began with an attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly on Wednesday and ended with Friday’s dual sieges at a print works outside Paris and a kosher supermarket in the city.
Netanyahu said he had spoken by telephone on Saturday with Celine Shreki, a hostage in the supermarket.
“She is recovering,” he said.
“She told me about the terrorist’s inconceivable cruelty and of the heroism of the young Jewish man who attempted to seize his weapon and shoot him; he was shot by the terrorist and died about 45 minutes later.”
The prime minister expressed his sorrow for the murdered French citizens, journalists and police officers.
“Our brothers and sisters in the French Jewish community, we grieve with you over the terrible loss. I would like to send condolences to the families of Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada,” Netanyahu said.
Immediately after hearing of the supermarket attack on Friday, Netanyahu held a conference call with Liberman, Foreign Ministry Director- General Nissim Ben-Shitrit, Mossad director Tamir Pardo and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen. After the meeting, Netanyahu instructed that all possible assistance be granted to the French authorities and that security directives be underscored at Israeli missions and Jewish institutions.
On Friday night, Netanyahu spoke with French President Francois Hollande and assured him that “the entire people of Israel are with you.
Our hearts are with the families of the victims.”
Netanyahu offered France any Israeli assistance it needed and asked Hollande in turn to heighten security at Jewish institutions.
When he spoke with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Netanyahu said it was important to cut off financing for extremist Islamic terrorist organizations and to take action against incitement in Europe.
“It is also essential to take action against countries that give support, shelter and passage to terrorism,” he said.
Netanyahu also spoke with Roger Cukierman, president of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), the umbrella organization for French Jewry, and French National Assembly member Meyer Habib.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who will not fly to France, said “every terrorist around the world must know that whoever harms a Jew due to his religion, Israel will demand his head.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said the events in France broke his heart, adding that Europeans were realizing that terror must be handled with determination and without compromise.
Shas leader Arye Deri called on French Jews to make aliya, saying they would be received in Israel with love.
Liberman also urged French Jews to immigrate.
“I have no doubt that the best security is aliya to Israel,” he told Channel 2.Gil Hoffman and Reuters contributed to this report.