President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog visited the Ohr Torah Jewish school in Toulouse, France, on Sunday, to mark the 10-year anniversary of a shooting attack that left four Jewish civilians and three soldiers dead.
Joined by French President Emmanuel Macron, Herzog laid a wreath at the monument commemorating the Jewish victims of the 2012 terror attack — Jonathan Sandler, Arié Sandler, Gabriel Sandler, and Myriam Monsonego.
“Brothers and sisters, we stand here today in order to say clearly: terror will not defeat us,” he said during the ceremony. “Our mutual responsibility, our spirit, and our glorious heritage—these, no one can suppress.”
“Anyone searching for a justification for hatred must know that hatred has no reason. There is no justification for the murder of innocent children in Toulouse; there is not, and there will never be, any reason or justification for acts of terror, wherever they may be perpetrated,” added Herzog. “This is pure and bottomless hatred, motivated by an extremist and distorted version of Islam, which never misses an opportunity to attack Jews, and as we have seen, unfortunately, also Muslims and Christians.”
Both leaders stood for a moment of silence and then met teachers and students who were present at the school at the time of the attack, a statement issued by the President’s Office said.
Later, the Herzogs joined the French leader and his wife, Brigitte Macron, in meeting school principal Yaacov Monsonego and his wife, Yaffa, who lost their eight-year-old daughter Myriam in the massacre.
They were joined by former French presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
The presidents heard from the families about their heavy loss, the challenges that they have faced over the past decade, and the strengthening of the Jewish community of Toulouse after the disaster.
The Herzogs are expected to dine with the Macrons before returning to Israel on Monday.
The invitation to the ceremony was extended by Macron last year, during the latter’s meeting with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Herzog’s office said.
On March 11 and 12, 2012, Mohamed Merah killed three French soldiers before turning his sights on the Ohr Torah school in Toulouse, where he gunned down 30-year-old Jonathan Sandler and his two children, 6-year-old Arié and 3-year-old Gabriel, along with 8-year-old Monsonego.
Merah was killed by police after a 32-hour siege at his home, three days after the school assault.
The attack was the deadliest on Jews in France in three decades, and marked the advent of a new threat from French-born radicals goaded by foreign terror groups to strike their homeland.