Israel calls on Pakistan to bring terrorists behind Mumbai attack to justice

Israel calls on Pakistan to bring terrorists behind Mumbai attack to justice

At 10-year commemoration hosted by India’s Tel Aviv embassy, grandfather of orphaned Moshe Holtzberg says November 2008 massacre was attack ‘against all of us’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Mumbai's Chabad House, where Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his 28-year-old wife Rivka, were killed by Islamist terrorists attack, seen here on December 25 2008. (Serge Attal/ Flash90)
Mumbai's Chabad House, where Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his 28-year-old wife Rivka, were killed by Islamist terrorists attack, seen here on December 25 2008. (Serge Attal/ Flash90)

A senior Israeli diplomat on Monday called on Pakistan to hold accountable the terrorists responsible for the deadly attacks in Mumbai exactly 10 years ago.

At a commemoration held at the Indian embassy in Tel Aviv, Michael Ronen, who directs the Foreign Ministry’s South and South East Asia Division, urged “all governments, including the government of Pakistan, to ensure that perpetrators and facilitators of the attack are brought to justice.”

Ronen said it was “important to provide full justice to the victims and their families,” according to a press release issued by the Indian embassy.

The attacks started on November 26, 2008, when 10 Islamic terrorists, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, killed 166 people and injured hundreds more in a three-day rampage through India’s financial capital.

Played out on TV news channels around the world, the bloody events — widely known as 26/11 — have been compared in India to New York’s suffering on September 11, 2001. They were marked Monday by solemn commemorations throughout India.

The coordinated attacks on the city of nearly 20 million people hit luxury hotels, the main railway station, a restaurant popular with tourists and the city’s Chabad center, where six Israelis were killed.

The attacks can be seen as an effort to “attack the Indian society, economy and culture, as well as the growing bilateral relationship between India and Israel,” Ronen said.

From left to right: Michael Ronen, Shimon Rosenberg, and Pavan Kapoor, at the Indian embassy in Tel Aviv during an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, November 27, 2018. (courtesy)

In this respect, “the terrorist attack failed miserably as the Indian economy has continued to grow stronger, its culture remains invincible and bilateral ties continue to reach new heights,” he said.

Terrorism can only be defeated by international cooperation, he stressed, calling again “on the government of Pakistan “to ensure full justice to the victims and their families.”

Ronen’s call echoed a statement made a day earlier by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who urged Islamabad to take stronger action against the terrorist organization responsible for the massacre.

Pakistani security personnel escort Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as he leaves the court after a hearing in Islamabad on January 1, 2015. (AFP/Aamir QURESHI)

“It is an affront to the families of the victims that, after 10 years, those who planned the Mumbai attack have still not been convicted for their involvement,” he said. “We call upon all countries, particularly Pakistan, to uphold their UN Security Council obligations to implement sanctions against the terrorists responsible for this atrocity, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates.”

The United States has offered a new $5 million reward for the capture of the attackers, he announced.

Monday’s event in India’s Tel Aviv embassy, which started with a moment of silence, was also attended by Shimon Rosenberg, who lost his daughter and son-in-law in the attack.

Rosenberg — the grandfather of Moshe Holtzberg, the boy who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Mumbai earlier this year and unveiled a memorial plaque in honor of his murdered parents at the local Chabad House — said the attack was not just against his family but “against all of us — who are one as a family.”

Although 10 years have passed since the Chabad House massacre, Moshe Holtzberg is a “strong and good boy” who despite “painful memories” plans to return to Mumbai to celebrate his bar mitzvah there, his grandfather said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Moshe Holtzberg, the son of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg, who were killed in the November 26, 2008, terror attack in Mumbai, during a memorial for the victims of the attack at Nariman Chabad House in Mumbai on January 18, 2018. (GPO)

Indian Ambassador to Israel Pavan Kapoor noted that the Mumbai attack was the worst terrorist attack ever to occur in his home country and “should motivate the world to unite against terrorism and to defeat the ideology of hatred.”

He too lamented that the Pakistanis who planned and facilitated the attack have not been brought to justice, calling on other countries to urge Islamabad to implement sanctions against Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates.

Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, the director of Nariman Chabad House, gestures at shrapnel marks which was left in the same state following the 2008 terror attacks, during a media visit on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks in Mumbai on November 25, 2018 (PUNIT PARANJPE / AFP)

Kapoor and Ronen, the Israeli diplomat, closed the commemoration by lighting 25 candles in memory of the 25 foreigners killed in the attack.

Earlier on Monday, Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem tweeted: “Israel stands in solidarity with India against terrorism and in memory of its victims. May their memory be a blessing.”

AFP contributed this report.

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