Netanyahu: Murder in French Jewish School a 'Despicable anti-Semitic' Attack

Rabbi, three children killed after man fires at Ozar Hatorah school in southern city of Toulouse; police say gun used was the same one used in murder of two soldiers last week.

Yair Ettinger
Eli Shvidler
Olivier Fitoussi
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Yair Ettinger
Eli Shvidler
Olivier Fitoussi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the shooting at a Jewish high school in the southern French city of Toulouse is a "despicable murder," and that he is certain that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his government "will do everything in their power to find the murderer, and I promise that Israel will help France in this task."

The shooting on Monday – in which four people were killed and another seriously wounded - took place near a synagogue on the campus of the Ozar Hatorah school, where children and their parents usually wait for a bus that takes them to the various Jewish preschools in the community. The victim, Jonathan Sandler, a Jewish studies teacher at the school, was waiting for the bus with his two children when the shooting occurred.

Teenagers stand with their suitcases before leaving the "Ozar Hatorah" Jewish boarding school after the shooting, on March 19, 2012 in Toulouse.Credit: AFP

According to reports, a man riding a motorcycle opened fire at the children and the parents at around 8:00 A.M. The gunman then abandoned the motorcycle, entered the school and began shooting at the students and faculty.

Eyewitnesses said that the man switched firearms after the first one was jammed. One of the witnesses claims he shot one of the children from close range.

Policemen at work in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, on March 19, 2012.
Nicolas Sarkozy, France's President delivers a speech in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, March 19, 2012.
  A man comforts schoolchildren after a gunman opened fire at a Jewish school killing several people in Toulouse, France, March 19, 2012.
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Policemen at work in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, on March 19, 2012. Credit: AFP
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Nicolas Sarkozy, France's President delivers a speech in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, March 19, 2012.Credit: Reuters
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A man comforts schoolchildren after a gunman opened fire at a Jewish school killing several people in Toulouse, France, March 19, 2012. Credit: AP
Gunman opens fire on Jewish school in France

Police closed off the street on which the school is located, and deployed large forces the scene. Some 50 French police officers were drafted into the investigation including anti-terrorist officers, French media reported.
The Ministry of Interior has requested increased vigilance and surveillance in all of south-west France, particularly in the Jewish districts.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy cancelled other appointments and was on his way to Toulouse on Monday morning, accompanied by Education Minister Luc Chatel and the president of the CRIF French Jewish association, Richard Prasquier.

Netanyahu criticized the UN's Human Rights Council for inviting a senior Hamas official to Geneva, saying that he "did not hear any condemnation of this despicable murder by the UN." He added: "What I did hear is that the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva hosted a senior Hamas member today – an organization that indiscriminately kills innocent children, women and men." Netanyahu said that he has "one thing to say to the UN Human Rights Council – what do you have to do with human rights? Shame on you."

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