Netanyahu: ‘Heartbroken and appalled’ by Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
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Gabbay mourns an attack 'on all Jews... We all hurt tonight'

Netanyahu: ‘Heartbroken and appalled’ by Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

President Rivlin, politicians send condolences to victims in deadly attack, call for US to ensure ‘justice will be served to the despicable murderer’

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday evening that he was ‘heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue today,” in which 11 people have been confirmed dead.

“The entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead,” Netanyahu said in a video message. “We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We stand together with the American people in the face of this horrendous antisemitic brutality and we all pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded.”

President Reuven Rivlin, as well as ministers and politicians from across the spectrum, also responded with shock and outrage at the news of the mass shooting.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the events in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We are thinking of the families of those who were murdered and praying for the quick recovery of those who were injured” Rivlin said in a statement.

“I am sure that the law enforcement agencies and the legal authorities in the US will investigate this horrific event thoroughly and that justice will be served to the despicable murderer,” he added.

The gunman, named as Robert Bowers, is said to have yelled “All Jews must die” as he entered the Tree of Life Synagogue, a Conservative congregation, in the city and began firing, local media reported. He engaged in a shootout with responding police officers and barricaded himself inside the building before reportedly surrendering. He is said to be injured.

An unknown number of people were also injured in the shooting, among them police officers, according to authorities.

Police rapid response team members respond to the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that “the State of Israel is deeply pained by this terrible antisemitic murder. Our Jewish brothers and sisters came under a murderous attack while at prayer. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed, and we pray for the swift recovery of the injured, as we pray this is the last such event. Jewish blood is not free.”

“When Jews are murdered in Pittsburgh, the people of Israel feel pain. All Israel are responsible for one another,” Bennett, who said he will depart Israeli later Saturday night for Pittsburgh, added.

Bennett also said he had instructed the Diaspora Ministry to assess and prepare to assist the Pittsburgh Jewish community, “including the need for emergency and resilience teams that immediately left Israel for psychological assistance and community rehabilitation.”

First responders surround the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., where a shooter opened fire Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Culture Minister Miri Regev said her “heart is with the families of the murdered and wounded.”

Speaking from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where she is accompanying the Israeli judo team for the Grand Slam tour competition, Regev said she was “certain that the US law enforcement authorities will capture the abominable murderers and their accomplices and treat them with the full extent of the law.

“We are a strong nation that has not broken and we will always remain,” she said, paraphrasing the biblical quote. “The people of Israel live.”

Zionist Union head Avi Gabbay speaks at a press conference with former senior security officials in Tel Aviv on February 27, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay said the shooting was an attack “on all Jews.”

“A person who opens fire in a synagogue does not attack Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox Jews. He attacks all the Jews. We all hurt tonight,” he said in a tweet.

“Our hearts are with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and families affected by this horrific terrorist act,” Gabbay added.

Yesh Atid chair Yair Lapid said that the victims were “good Jews who love Israel and who for years the Israeli government has been saying are not really Jewish among us,” referring laws in Israel that do not recognize conversions by those communities.

“So,” Lapid continues, “they are Jewish among us. Because if they try to murder you because you are Jewish, then you are Jewish.”

US President Donald Trump, who earlier said he was monitoring the events as they unfolded, tweeted that the incident is “far more devastating than originally thought” and that he will be making a statement later Saturday evening.

Israel’s New York Consul General Danny Dayan, who is responsible for coordination with Jewish communities in the US said: “Today, murderous anti-Semitism has reached our borders, and the State of Israel stands with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, shoulder to shoulder.”

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog called Greater Pittsburgh Federation CEO Jeff Finkelstein to express condolences and solidarity and to offer any assistance necessary. Herzog also announced he will visit the Pittsburgh Jewish community during his upcoming trip to the United States at the end of this week.

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