Hundreds gathered with French and Israeli leaders to remember the victims of last week's terrorist attacks following a massive march for unity through the heart of Paris.
Hundreds gathered with the leaders of France and Israel to remember the victims of an attack at a kosher supermarket near Paris.
French President Francois Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined several hundred members of the Jewish community at the memorial Sunday night at the Grand Synagogue of Paris, also known as the Synagogue de la Victoire. Hollande did not deliver remarks at the synagogue.
The sister of attack victim Yoav Hattab, one of four Jews killed in an attack Friday at the Hyper Cacher market, urged those gathered at the memorial to light four extra candles each Shabbat “so they may remain etched in our hearts.” The sister, who asked not to be named, also played a recording of Hattab singing the Modeh Ani prayer.
Netanyahu called on Europe and the rest of the world to support Israel’s fight against terror as supporters chanted his “Bibi” and “Israel will live, Israel will overcome.”
“Like the civilized world stands united with France, so it needs to stand with Israel in its fight against the same enemy exactly: radical Islam,” Netanyahu said.
“It’s a short distance between the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, to the murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, to the attacks on Jews in Israel, to the murders at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher,” he added.
The gathering Sunday evening was organized by the Consistoire, the body responsible for religious services for the French Jewish community. It was held immediately after a march in which hundreds of thousands walked through the heart of Paris in support of democratic values.
The march was originally scheduled as an act of public protest following the slaying of 12 people on Jan. 7 by Islamist terrorists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly which published many items lampooning Islam. But organizers later expanded it to commemorate the victims of attacks at the supermarket and a police officer slain in Paris on Thursday.
Dozens of world leaders attended, including Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who marched in the front row with French President Francois Hollande. The two were several marchers apart, with Hollande in the middle. It is the closest the leaders have been seen together in years, according to The New York Times.
Thousands of French soldiers and police secured the march, including snipers on roofs along the march’s route. Marchers carried signs in French reading “I am Charlie,” referring to the satirical magazine where 12 staff members and security forces were killed on Jan. 7. Other signs read in French “I am a Jew,” representing the four men killed during an attack Friday on a kosher supermarket in a Paris suburb. A police officer was also killed Thursday by one of the Charlie Hebdo attackers.
In Jerusalem, a solidarity march at City Hall timed to coincide with the Paris march drew about 1,000 marchers.
Also on Sunday, video surfaced showing kosher supermarket shooter Amedy Coulibaly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and saying that he coordinated the attack with Cherif and Said Kouachi, the Charlie Hebdo shooters who were killed Friday when police overtook the printing shop where they were holed up north of Paris. The Kouachi brothers had said they were financed by Al Qaida.
The video was prepared by Coulibaly to be released after the attack. Coulibaly, an associate with whom the brothers had been recruited as jihadists to fight in Syria, took more than 20 people hostage at Hyper Cacher and killed four. He was killed when police stormed the shop. According to some reports, Coulibaly had maps of Jewish schools in his car on Jan. 8, a day before the attack on Hyper Cacher, when he killed a police officer south of the city center.
Netanyahu commended the “remarkable bravery of French law enforcement” during the terrorist attacks and praised the actions of a Muslim employee of the kosher supermarket who helped several Jews escape into the refrigeration room without the shooter’s knowledge. He also reiterated his call to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
“We need to acknowledge that we are facing a global network of radical Islam of hate. I believe this threat will grow when Europe sees the return of thousands of terrorists from the killing fields of the Middle East, the danger will be graver and it will become a grave threat to humanity if radical Islam gets nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “So we need to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. We need to support each other in this fateful struggle against radical Islamic fanatics wherever they are.”
French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia said the march Sunday shows the French Jewish community “is not as isolated as we thought. For months we have been asking where is France? Today we saw France, and the France we saw was a spitting image of biblical descriptions of Jerusalem, where brothers unite.”
The synagogue rally also featured the singing of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, followed by the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.