Bush: J'lem attack `barbaric, vicious'

Says US stands firmly with Israel; Rice: Barbarous act "has no place among civilized peoples."

Jlem terror 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Jlem terror 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
US President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday that the United States stands with Israel, hours after a gunman's attack on Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva that killed eight and wounded 11. "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack in Jerusalem that targeted innocent students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva," Bush said in a statement released at the White House after the president spoke with Olmert on the telephone. "This barbaric and vicious attack on innocent civilians deserves the condemnation of every nation." Bush said that in his call with Olmert, he extended condolences to the victims of the attack against rabbinical students in Jerusalem. "I told him the United States stands firmly with Israel in the face of this terrible attack," Bush said. Earlier in Brussels, Belgium, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also condemned the attack as an "act of terror and depravity." Rice said she spoke with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to offer US condolences to the people of Israel and the families of the victims. "The United States condemns tonight's act of terror and depravity," Rice said in a statement. "This barbarous act has no place among civilized peoples and shocks the conscience of all peace-loving nations. There is no cause that could ever justify this action." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the shooting, calling it a "savage attack." In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Ban deplored the deliberate killing and injuring of civilians and offered his condolences to the families of those killed. "The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the potential for continued acts of violence and terrorism to undermine the political process, which he believes must be pursued to achieve a secure and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians, based on a two-state solution," the statement said. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also expressed his profound shock following the shooting attack. "The reports tonight of killings at a seminary in Jerusalem are shocking. They add to the toll of civilian life lost in recent days. They are an arrow aimed at the heart of the peace process so recently revived. They should and will be deplored by all decent people everywhere," said Miliband in a statement. The British foreign secretary went on to say that the only way to honor the memory of those killed in the attack was to build a Middle East free from the power of the gun through a political process in which "the peaceful majority drive out the murderous minority." Miliband said that he too had spoken to Livni and passed on his deepest condolences to her. "I set out the solidarity of the British people with the shocked citizens of Israel and recommitted the British government to work with all those committed to peaceful means and peaceful goals in the Middle East," continued the statement. Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Ron Proser told Sky News that it was "not enough to condemn" but that those who are trying to derail the peace process must be stopped. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the terror attack. "President Abbas condemns the attack that targeted the religious seminary in Jerusalem," said a statement released by his office. "The president condemns all attacks that target civilians, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli." Government spokesman Mark Regev said the Palestinian government must take steps against the extremists - not just denounce their attacks. "Tonight's massacre in Jerusalem is a defining moment," he told The Associated Press. "It is clear that those people celebrating this bloodshed have shown themselves to be not only the enemies of Israel but of all of humanity." Earlier Saturday night, the Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Israel would never allow terrorism to achieve its goals. "Such abominable terrorist attacks must strengthen the free world's understanding of the nature of the terrorist threat. A clear, decisive and uncompromising stand is necessary against such terrorism," it said. The statement went on to say that Israel is "at the forefront of the struggle against terrorism and will continue to defend its citizens, who are exposed to this threat on a daily basis," adding that Israel expects the nations of the world to support it in its war on terror.