Our hearts go out to Paris following the coordinated series of terrorist attacks on Friday night that claimed the lives of some 130 people and wounded hundreds of others. The assault was claimed by Islamic State as an “act of war” against France, apparently in response to the French support for the campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
We join with the international community in condemning terrorism in the strongest possible terms and extend our deep condolences to the French people.
In the worst attack, Reuters quoted a Paris municipal official as saying, four gunmen shot dead some 90 young people at a rock concert at the Bataclan hall before anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault on the building. About 40 more people were killed in five other attacks in the Paris region, the official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France national stadium, where President François Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching a friendly soccer match between their two countries.
Hollande promised a “merciless” response, declaring a state of emergency and three days of national mourning.
“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action,” Hollande said after an emergency meeting of security chiefs. He said ISIS had organized the attacks from abroad, but received internal help.
ISIS calls on Muslims to carry out attacks in France
“France will be merciless toward these barbarians from Daesh,” he said, using the Arab acronym for Islamic State.
In its claim of responsibility, ISIS said the attacks were a response to France's campaign against its fighters, and it distributed an undated video showing a terrorist said France would not live peacefully as long it took part in US-led bombing raids against its fighters.
Even before this weekend's mega-attack, Paris had become a target of Islamist terrorists. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, the latter being a clear act of anti-Semitism directed against the Jewish community. The security situation in France has led many Jews to make aliya. Last year, some 7,000 immigrants came to Israel from France, more than from any other country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that Israeli flags at missions around the world be lowered to half-staff in solidarity. “Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with President François Hollande and with the French people in the war against terrorism,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew, English and French. “I send condolences on behalf of the Israeli people to the families of the victims, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”
French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave was visibly moved as he attended a solidarity rally at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night. “The impact on my country is absolutely huge, as you can imagine,” Maisonnave said.
Amateur video shows panic during Paris attacks
“Clearly that was something that we did not anticipate. It is absolutely clear that the terrorists were determined to kill as many people as possible.”
In an op-ed published in today's Jerusalem Post, Israeli terrorism expert Dr. Boaz Ganor calls for a thorough reassessment of how France, Europe and the Western world in general are waging the battle against ISIS.
“The French security services in particular and the Europeans in general must carry out a thorough self-examination to discover how an attack of this scale went under their radar,” Ganor writes. “The French must develop better intelligence capabilities alongside a more effective doctrine to cope with terrorism.”
It is high time that the international community mobilize together against ISIS. If there is no concerted effort to combat this radical organization that thrives on terrorism, we might see an escalation of ISIS attacks around the world. As former president Shimon Peres said at Saturday night’s rally, “This is a war that the whole world must put to an end. These terrorists are endangering us, and we must unite to put an end to the danger.”
In a condolence message sent to Hollande, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said: “Our common values are stronger than those of the terrorists. Our common values will prevail.”
It’s time for the civilized world to stop talking and to take action. ISIS must be recognized for what it is – a barbaric terrorist organization seeking to establish a radical caliphate throughout the Middle East. It must be stopped.