Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night extended Israel’s condolences to the families of the victims of the Orlando shooting attack, and said that Israel stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States in combating terrorism.
“On behalf of Israelis and the government of Israel, I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to the American people in the wake of the heinous attack on the LGBT community in Orlando last night,” the prime minister said in a statement.
“Israel stands shoulder to shoulder alongside the US in this tragic moment of loss,” Netanyahu said. “We share in the despair of the families of the victims.”
The Tel Aviv Municipality building was lit in the colors of the LGBT flag “in solidarity with the city of Orlando,” the city said on Twitter.
— Tel Aviv (@TelAviv) June 12, 2016
At least 50 people were killed, and 53 wounded when suspected gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. According to police, Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group before massacring party-goers at the Pulse nightclub.
President Reuven Rivlin Sunday evening also extended his condolences to the US in the wake of the deadly attack. “Once again we feel the pain of terrible loss as we see the blood spilled of young and innocent people. There is no comfort for those who have had their loved ones torn away from them.”
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) June 12, 2016
“This attack against the LGBT community in Orlando, is as cowardly as it is abhorrent,” Rivlin wrote to US President Barack Obama. He added that Israel would stand the US “in the moral and just fight against all forms of violence and hatred.”
Opposition leader and leader of the Zionist Union party Isaac Herzog in a Facebook post expressed solidarity with the “victims of darkness and hatred.”
A US citizen born to Afghan parents, Mateen was a resident of the Florida beach city of Port St. Lucie. He worked as a private security guard with a large US company and was a father to a three-year-old boy.
Mateen was reportedly on the FBI’s radar after his name came up in an investigation some years ago but did not have a criminal history.
He died in a firefight with SWAT officers several hours after the attack began.
The FBI said there were “suggestions” Mateen had “leanings” toward Islamic terror.
Hours after the attack, the Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the IS-linked Amaq news agency, Britain’s Sky News reported.
Obama in a televised address said the massacre was an “act of terror” and an “act of hate,” but that it was premature to ascribe a definitive motive. “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear and turn against each other,” he said.