Olmert: No doubt Mumbai attack targeted Jewish institutions
PM says pleased with India's cooperation during terror ordeal, toning down earlier Israeli criticism.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday he was pleased with India's cooperation throughout the deadly Mumbai attacks, toning down criticism voiced by Israeli security experts of the Indian military's handling of the standoff.
Olmert's comments appeared to be aimed at heading off tensions with India, an important Israeli ally.
Speaking at the weekly meeting of his Cabinet, Olmert said there had been proper and correct cooperation with India throughout the crisis. Olmert said there was no doubt the attacks targeted Jewish institutions.
While noting that Israel had offered assistance, he said there was never any talk of sending in Israeli forces.
"I'm pleased with this cooperation and take this opportunity to thank the Indian government for deciding to keep us updated throughout the events, he said.
In a statement releaed after the attacks, Olmert also said that symbols of Israeli and Jews motivate murder worldwide. "The hatred of Jews, the State of Israel and Jewish symbols are still a factor that spurs and encourages such murderous acts."
Olmert said the images from the Mumbai Chabad House, including pictures of the murdered victims wrapped in prayer shawls "are shocking and take us back to events that we pray never recur."
Olmert also vowed that Israel would work together with Indian authorities and "would be happy to provide any and all information or specific assistance that we might be asked to give."
Israeli embassy representatives and rescue personnel have identified six of the Jewish and Israeli victims killed in the assault that began Wednesday night across India's financial capital, including its Chabad center.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided on Saturday evening to dispatch an Israel Air Force plane with teams of medical and forensic experts to Mumbai on Sunday to aid in the identification of victims.