Over 20 Israelis still unaccounted for after Spain attacks
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Over 20 Israelis still unaccounted for after Spain attacks

Foreign Ministry says no Israelis thought to have been killed or injured after van rams tourists in popular area of Barcelona; unknown if Israelis hurt in second attack early Friday morning

Tourists wait for the police to allow them to come back to their hotel on the Las Ramblas boulevard after a van plowed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others in Barcelona, on August 18, 2017. (AFP/JAVIER SORIANO)
Tourists wait for the police to allow them to come back to their hotel on the Las Ramblas boulevard after a van plowed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others in Barcelona, on August 18, 2017. (AFP/JAVIER SORIANO)

Over two dozen Israelis were listed as unaccounted for in Barcelona a day after a deadly car-ramming terror attack there, but none of them was feared to be among the dozens of casualties, a Foreign Ministry official said Friday morning.

The ministry said the number of Israelis in Barcelona listed as “out of contact” was at 28 after overnight efforts to ensure all Israelis visiting the country were accounted for.

Spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon had earlier told Israel Radio officials the number was down to 20.

The ministry said the number was raised after it made contact with family members of additional Israelis thought to be in Barcelona.

However, officials indicated no Israelis were thought to be among those killed or injured after the attack.

Israel’s envoy in Spain, Daniel Kutner, told Israel Radio that diplomats had been dispatched to hospitals to ensure no Israelis were among those hurt or killed.

Spanish officials said 13 people were killed and over 100 hurt after the driver of a white van sped into a street packed full of tourists in central Barcelona on Thursday afternoon, in what was termed a terror attack.

Eight hours later in Cambrils, a city 120 kilometres south of Barcelona, an Audi A3 car hit pedestrians, injuring six civilians — one of them in a critical condition — and one police officer, said the government of the Spanish region of Catalonia where both cities are located.

Police shot dead four of the Cambrils attackers and a fifth later died of his injuries. Police said the five were carrying bomb belts.

The Foreign Ministry said it was not immediately known if Israelis were among the casualties in the second attack.

Medical staff members and policemen stand in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO)
Medical staff members and policemen stand in a cordoned off area after a van plowed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO)

Nachshon said Israeli officials were in touch with their Spanish counterparts.

Spain is a top tourist destination for Israelis, hundreds of thousands of whom go abroad during August for the summer break.

Following the attack, Kutner posted on Facebook that Israel stood with the people of Spain, Barcelona and all the tourists there.

“Unfortunately, our country is familiar with the scourge of terror. However, we will not allow violence and contempt for life to wear down our commitment to democracy and respect for the law,” he wrote, referring to similar car-ramming attacks used by Palestinian terrorists in Israel.

Palabras de Daniel Kutner, Embajador de Israel en España, tras el atentado de Barcelona:En estos momentos tan difí…

Posted by Israel en España on Thursday, 17 August 2017

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the Spanish people in the wake of the Islamic State-claimed vehicular attack.

“Israel condemns the terrorist attack in Barcelona. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I send condolences to families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the situation room of the Foreign Ministry, where he is updated on the terror attack in Barcelona, on August 17, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the situation room of the Foreign Ministry, where he is updated on the terror attack in Barcelona, on August 17, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

“Tonight we saw, once again, that terrorism can strike anywhere. The civilized world must fight together in order to defeat it,” the prime minister said.

The Foreign Ministry later released a photo of Netanyahu’s briefing on the events in Barcelona that included a video call with the staff of Israel’s embassy in Spain.

The Catalan regional government said citizens from 24 countries were among the people killed and injured during the Barcelona van attack.

A person is helped by Spanish policemen and two men after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Nicolas CARVALHO OCHOA)
A person is helped by Spanish policemen and two men after a van plowed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Nicolas CARVALHO OCHOA)

Authorities said the dead included a Belgian, a Greek woman was among the injured. Australia confirmed three of its citizens were injured; two others were Taiwanese and one was from Hong Kong, according to their governments. Germany was investigating whether any of its citizens were among the dead or injured.

While the attack occurred near the kosher Maccabi Restaurant in the Las Ramblas section of Barcelona, an area popular with tourists from Israel and elsewhere, it was not believed that the driver targeted Jews or Israelis.

Barak Ben Gal, an Israeli tour guide in Barcelona who witnessed the ramming, told Channel 2, “People dropped to the ground, there were wounded. There were dozens. The area is completely evacuated. Police are everywhere. There are helicopters in the air.”

He added, “I’ve lived here 14 years, it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this.”

People flee the scene in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
People flee the scene in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

The late afternoon attack in the city’s Las Ramblas district left victims sprawled in the historic street, spattered with blood or writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

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