Hatred of Jews spurred Nariman House attack: Israel

November 30th, 2008 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday said the hatred of Jews spurred the terrorist attack at Mumbai’s Nariman House, home to a Jewish organisation, and vowed to step up cooperation with Indian intelligence agencies to avert such strikes.The Israeli leadership and sections of the Israeli media, however, criticised India for its handling of the hostage crisis in the aftermath of the Nov 26 strikes that killed at least 183 people, including nine Jews.

“The hatred of Jews, the state of Israel and Jewish symbols are still a factor that spurs and encourages such murderous acts,” Olmert said in a statement widely quoted in the Israeli media.

He stressed that the images from the Chabad House, also called the Nariman House in south Mumbai, including pictures of the murdered victims wrapped in prayer shawls, “are shocking and take us back to events that we pray never recur”.

Israel would work together with Indian authorities and “would be happy to provide any and all information or specific assistance that we might be asked to give,” Olmert said.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, however, was critical of India’s refusal to accept Israeli assistance in ending the hostage crisis at the Nariman House and two luxury hotels nearby.

“All in all, it was a difficult spectacle,” Barak was quoted as saying by the Internet edition of the Haaretz newspaper.

“I’m not sure it had to last three days, but that’s what happened,” he said.

Top Israeli officials, quoted by Israeli dailies, said Israel had offered all manner of help to India, including assistance, but India said “a polite no” to the Israeli offer.

Danny Yatom, a former head of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, said the attacks revealed major lapses in Indian intelligence as they “involved dozens of terrorists enjoying the support of numerous sympathisers”.

“It is vital that the Indian security services draw the necessary lessons,” Yatom told public radio.

Nitzan Nurieli, the head of Israel’s counter-terrorism department, said: “We have to acknowledge that in the Mumbai case our intelligence services did not have adequate advance knowledge and nor did the Indian security services.”

He also urged Israeli tourists to avoid travel to northern India.

The Israeli foreign ministry said Saturday that nine people - most Israelis, some dual citizens but all of them Jews - were killed in a terrorist attack on the Chabad house, one of 10 sites hit by terrorists in a string of coordinated attacks that left at least 183 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Six of the victims have been identified.

The bodies of 29-year-old Gavriel Holtzberg, an Israeli-born American rabbi, and his wife Rivka, 28, who lived in the Nariman House would be buried Monday, a Chabad spokesman told the Haaretz.

The Haaretz reported that an Israel Air Force plane carrying medical and forensic experts had already landed in Mumbai Sunday to help in the identification of the remaining victims.

The Jerusalem Post expressed solidarity with the Indian victims of the Mumbai terror attacks, but singled out “the murders of our compatriots and coreligionists” which has outraged Israel.

The Post also reinforced the view that the Jews were specifically targeted by terrorists. “There will be time to reflect on each individual life that was taken. But even now, one thing is plain: Those killed at the Chabad House were murdered because they were Jewish or Israeli,” it said.

“All that really mattered was that they were living representatives of Jewish civilization,” the daily said.

“This time the assault came in India, next time it will come somewhere else. The enemy is Islamic extremism,” the Post said.

“Its immediate goal is to vanquish - by any means necessary - Western symbols and values from those parts of the world it claims as Muslim,” the daily added.

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