Some 2,000 mourners gathered at Jerusalem's Har Menuhot cemetery on Tuesday morning for the funerals of the four Jewish hostages killed in Friday’s terror attack at a Paris kosher supermarket – Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham and Francois-Michel Saada.
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The funeral procession began at noon, and was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog, and other ministers, Knesset members and public figures. The victims' bodies arrived in Israel overnight, accompanied by their families, who had requested their burial in Israel.
"This is not how we wanted to welcome you to the Holy Land; this is not how we wanted to see you return to the State of Israel and its capital Jerusalem," Rivlin told the mourners. "We wanted you alive. I stand before you now with a heart that is broken, shaking and in pain, and a whole nation is crying with me."
"Europe's leaders must firmly and actively restore the sense of security for the Jews of Europe," Rivlin said. "It should not be the case that in 2015, 70 years since the end of WWII, that Jews should be afraid to walk with a yarmulke on their heads and tzitzit under their clothes in the streets of Europe."
Netanyahu echoed Rivlin's remarks, reiterating the need for a united stance against terror: "Their lives were severed in an attack of hate and vile murder, but we will not amass words on the despicable murderer nor on the other murderers who killed other innocent people in France," Netayahu said. "I have said for years, and will say again today – these are not just the enemies of the Jewish people, but the enemy of humanity as a whole. The time has come for all civilized people to unite and uproot these enemies from our midst."
Cohen, 22, who had worked at Hyper Cacher for a year, was reported to have been killed trying to stop the terrorist, ISIS loyalist Amedy Coulibaly, from killing a 3-year-old boy. Ynet reported that Cohen’s cousin, Yonatan, said, “The police told the family the terrorist threatened to kill a 3-year-old boy, and Yohan tried to stop it. He managed to grab the terrorist’s weapon but before Yohan had a chance to shoot him, the terrorist put a bullet in his head and killed him on the spot.”
Hattab, 21, a student in Paris who had just returned from a Birthright tour to Israel, was the son of Betto Hattab, the rabbi of La Grand Synagogue in Tunis. Braham, 45, a computer engineer, is survived by his wife and four children.
Saada, 64, a pension fund manager, was the father of two children, both living in Israel.
Meanwhile, 4,700 extra police officers are protecting French Jewish sites, in addition to the nearly 10,000 extra soldiers being deployed on home soil by on Tuesday, following the killing of 17 people by Islamist militants in Paris last week, officials said. At least six suspects are still at large, police said on Tuesday.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the 4,700 police officers would be placed at all 717 Jewish schools across the country in addition to some 4,100 gendarmes already deployed.
“Synagogues, Jewish schools, but also mosques will be protected because in the past few days there have been a number of attacks against mosques,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told BFM TV.
Speaking a day after the biggest French public demonstration ever recorded, in honor of the victims, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the country remained at risk of further attacks. Soldiers would guard transport hubs, tourism sites and key buildings and mount general street patrols.
“The threats remain and we have to protect ourselves from them. It is an internal operation that will mobilize almost as many men as we have in our overseas operations,” Le Drian told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Hyper Cacher. “There I met Celine, who was one of the hostages and who told me what happened during the terror attack,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page after the visit.
“A straight line runs between extremist Islam’s attacks around the world and the attack that took place here,” Netanyahu wrote. “I expect all leaders, after we marched together through the streets of Paris, to fight all forms of terror, even when it is directed at Israel and at Jews. As far as I’m concerned, I will always make sure that Israel marches in the frontline when it comes to its security and future.”
Earlier Monday, Netanyahu met with Jewish leaders and told them how moved he was to meet the bereaved families a day earlier. “I told them I understand their feelings and that the Israeli people embrace the bereaved families. It was a moment of true Jewish solidarity,” he said.
Netanyahu said the image of the prime minister of Israel marching against terrorism alongside world leaders carries much significance. “This is something the State of Israel has been saying for many years,” he said, “with one simple addition: If the world doesn’t unite now against terrorism, the terror attacks we experienced here will grow to dimensions that people can’t imagine. Therefore I hope Europe unites, and I hope it comes to its senses.” Netanyahu added that “Israel supports Europe in its fight against terrorism, and it’s time Europe supports Israel in the same exact struggle.”
“The visit in Paris is also a moment of human solidarity,” Netanyahu said. “From the moment the security problem was solved and I was able to come here, it was natural for me to come, it was important,” he added, referring to the last-minute decision to attend the mass after considerable wavering.
The prime minister marched in Sunday’s rally alongside Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and at the side of French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, among other world leaders.
Following the march, Netanyahu attended a memorial event at Paris’ main synagogue.
He told the crowd at the synagogue that Israel and Jews around the world stand by France and the French people. At the service, he thanked France’s president and prime minister for their stance against anti-Semitism, and conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims of the attacks.
Netanyahu also thanked the French security services, and expressed special appreciation for Lassana Bathily, a Muslim from Mali who helped save several customers during the attack on the kosher supermarket.
It was revealed late Sunday that Hollande asked Netanyahu not to attend the memorial march, in an attempt to separate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the European show of unity.