Israeli leaders on Wednesday expressed their condolences after a gunman massacred at least 19 children at an elementary school in Texas.
Local authorities said two adults were also killed during the shooting spree in the town of Uvalde. The attacker, who shot and critically wounded his grandmother before the attack, was killed by law enforcement.
“Israel mourns together with the American people the horrific murder of innocent children and teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.
“Our prayers are with the victims, their families and the American people,” added Bennett, who himself attended an American elementary school when his family lived in the United States for two years.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he was “devastated by the horrific shooting in Texas.”
“The prayers of the people of Israel are with the families of the victims, the Uvalde community, and the American people,” he said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he was sending his prayers to the affected families.
“My thoughts are with the people of Texas following the horrific shooting at an elementary school, which took the lives of innocent children,” he tweeted.
“Israel stands with you in this difficult time,” Gantz added.
Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev said he was sending his “sincere condolences to our greatest friend, the United States,” in the wake of the massacre.
“I share in the grief of the families of those murdered and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Barlev tweeted.
President Isaac Herzog said he was “horrified” by the shooting and that Israel shares America’s grief.
“Our hearts are broken. The death of a child is a tragedy beyond measure, let alone the killing of nineteen innocent children and two adults,” he said.
The assault at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a US school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
Hours after the attack, families were still awaiting word on their children.
Outside the town civic center, where families were told to await news about their loved ones, the silence was broken repeatedly by screams and wailing. “No! Please, no!” one man yelled as he embraced another man.
“My heart is broken today,” said Hal Harrell, the school district superintendent. “We’re a small community, and we’re going to need your prayers to get through this.”
The attack came just 10 days after a deadly, racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that added to a years-long series of mass killings at churches, schools and stores.
And the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations seemed as dim, if not dimmer, than in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook deaths.
But US President Joe Biden appeared ready for a fight, calling for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation hours after the attack.