The families of the four French Jews murdered in Toulouse expressed mixed emotions on Thursday upon hearing about Mohamed Merah’s death, with some expressing relief combined with a sense that an opportunity to bring the killer to justice had been lost.
“We did not seek revenge because it wouldn’t bring Miriam or the other victims back, but there is a sense of relief. At least he did not continue to kill Jews or anyone else,” Arieh Monsonego, uncle of eight-year-old shooting victim Miriam Monsonego, said in a Channel 2 interview.
Another uncle, Rafi Maman, said the immediate family was not informed right away that Merah had been killed by French police at the end of 32-hour siege, and that they were “deep in their grief.” Though they have been spared the ordeal of a trial, he said, they will also never learn what drove Merah to commit such a sordid act.
The father of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, who was murdered along with his two young sons, wanted the killer taken alive, to stand trial for his crimes. “We expected and waited for them to hold a public trial, to be used to eradicate anti-Semitism,” Aaron Getz, a family friend, told Ynet.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French Foreign Minister Christophe Bigot paid condolence visits to the family of Miriam Monsonego.
“If they could have, these murderers would have murdered every Jew,” Netanyahu said after the visit. “To think about little Miriam, who was murdered so brutally, this is awful. Bereavement is like disability; it is painful and debilitating, like a limb has been cut off. We all pray that you will find the strength to deal with your pain.”
Netanyahu also suggested to Miriam’s father, who is the principal of the Ozar Hatorah school where the attack occurred, that the school be renamed after the victims.
Netanyahu visited Sandler’s wife Eva as well.
“I saw the depth of grief of a young mother who lost her husband and children,” Netanyahu said after the visit to the family, who are sitting shiva, the traditional seven-day mourning period, in Jerusalem. “I saw the sorrow of an interrupted life and collapsed hope. What sort of barbarism can bring a person to commit such an inhuman act?”
As he left the building, Bigot told reporters that he had found “a very brave and strong family with a message of life and love, a message of strength.”
Eva Sandler is mourning her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, and her two children, Arieh and Gavriel, who were all shot dead in the attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday.
“I think that for killers like this, every place, every centimeter that a Jew walks on is conquered territory,” Netanyahu said. “As far as they are concerned the Jews have no place anywhere in the world and they want to kill them where ever they are. That is exactly why the State of Israel was founded. Together with France we will continue to fight these atrocities.”
Bigot echoed Netanyahu’s words, saying the French would fight against anti-Semitism and terrorism. He added that he visited “to express our friendship and the solidarity of the French people in this shocking case.”
On Thursday evening, a memorial gathering was held outside the Tel Aviv Cinematheque to mourn the four victims of the Toulouse shooting. More than 200 people, mostly members of the French-Jewish community, attended the memorial.
Bigot conveyed the condolences of the French government and people to the families of the victims. Israelis knew only too well what it was to live with the constant threat of terror, he said at the gathering, vowing that the two countries would work together to combat it.
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