In one of his grimmest statements in months, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in Jerusalem to discuss Monday's terror attack on a Jewish day school in Toulouse.
While the two men talked, the suspected terrorist had been located, and was being held at bay by a French special ops police unit that surrounded the building in which Mohammed Merah had been found.
Juppe had arrived early Wednesday morning at Ben Gurion International Airport with the bodies of his most recent four victims, Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, 30, his two young sons, ages 3 and 6, and the 8-year-old daughter of the principal of the Otzar HaTorah Jewish day school that Merah attacked on Monday. The four were laid to rest in Jerusalem's Har HaMenuchot cemetery.
“This was a crime against the Jewish community, against France and against all of humanity,” Juppe said upon his arrival at the airport. He promised that the French government would do its utmost to bring the murderers to justice.
"I wish that the meeting could have taken place under better circumstances,” remarked Netanyahu. “I appreciate the clear and decisive stand that has been taken by President [Nicolas] Sarkozy and the French government against this horror.”
Nevertheless, Netanyahu said pointedly, “I believe that the struggle against terrorism requires greater clarity,” making an obvious reference to comments made earlier by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
The EU head had equivocated on her condemnation of Monday's attack, equating the gunned-down rabbi and Jewish school children to the Palestinian Authority Arabs in Gaza, many of whom are used as human shields by their terrorist relatives and neighbors while firing attacks on Israeli civilians. The response to Ashton's remarks in Israel was instanteous outrage.
"Terrorism is a systematic and deliberate attack on civilians, a deliberate attack against children,” Netanyahu pointed out. “There is a substantial difference between such deliberate attacks against civilians and children, and unintentional strikes against civilians that are part of legitimate actions to fight terrorism.
"If we do not make this distinction, if we allow such a mendacious analogy, then the terrorists will have won. If we make this moral distinction, then we will have defeated terrorism,” he said.
"I believe that we stand together on all these issues and this has been made clear in recent days,” the prime minister added. “I would like to express the appreciation of the Israeli people, who alongside the French people were shocked by this barbaric act, to the French government.”