An El Al plane carrying the bodies of the four victims of Monday’s shooting attack outside a Jewish school in France arrived at Ben-Gurion International airport shortly before 6 AM Wednesday morning. Funerals for the four victims were scheduled to take place at 10 AM in Jerusalem.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon greeted French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and members of the families of the victims of Monday’s Toulouse attacks at Ben Gurion Airport, as the four coffins arrived there Wednesday morning.
In the name of the Israeli government, Ayalon thanked Juppe for this “human and emotional gesture” and for the French authorities’ full cooperation in trying to bring the culprits to justice.
Juppe thanked Ayalon the welcoming and said, “This was a crime against the Jewish community, against France and against all humanity,” adding that the government in Paris will do everything in its power to bring the murder to justice
A closed-door memorial ceremony, attended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was held at Charles de Gaulle Airport before the flight departed Paris. Sarkozy reportedly used the opportunity to laud the courage of the mourning families.
“[It] is a moment of contemplation in front of these four coffins. And a moment of exchange with the families. You can imagine their upheaval. I have to say we were impressed by their courage,” he said, according to news website ITV.
Speaking at a press conference, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins — head of the inquiry into the Toulouse murders — said, “We’re up against an extremely determined individual who knows he’s being hunted and could strike again.” He noted, “This is someone who has killed every four days.”
Thousands are expected to pack Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery Wednesday morning, including French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
A team from Israeli rescue service Zaka was brought to France for the transfer of the bodies of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his two children Gavriel and Arieh, ages 5 and 4, and Miriam Monsonego, age 7.
The four were murdered outside the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse on Monday morning. Police have instituted a massive hunt for the killer, who reportedly shot the four in the head at close range.
Police suspect the killer is the same person who shot three French Paratroopers in the city last week, as well as another man who sold him a motorbike.
Earlier Tuesday, schools across France held a minute of silence to honor the victims.
In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sarkozy wrote that since some of the victims held dual Israeli-French citizenship, he wanted to express his sincere condolences to Netanyahu and the Israeli public.
“You can be sure that French authorities will do everything to arrest the perpetrator of this heinous crime and bring the full weight of justice to bear, as appropriate to a crime of this gravity and cruelty,” he wrote.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the costs of the funeral will be covered by Israel’s National Insurance Institute. Due to the “extraordinary circumstances,” it was decided, funds normally used to bury terror victims in Israel could be used in this case.
The Jerusalem Burial Society, which oversees Jewish burials in the capital, had sought a deposit from the families before registering the graves — prompting a wave of criticism for the insensitivity to the victims’ families.
People seeking burial in Jerusalem who are not residents of the capital are routinely required to pay, burial society officials explained, acknowledging that relatives in France had initially been asked to provide a check as a deposit for the burials.