Israel concerned about rabbi held hostage, to send rescue team

November 28th, 2008 - 2:05 am ICT by IANS  

Mumbai/New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) Israel is planning to send paramedics and rescue personnel to Mumbai to speed up the release of an Israeli rabbi and seven others held hostage by terrorists in an apartment in the city and to help the injured. The Israeli intelligence agencies have identified the hostage as Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg. His wife Rivka and six others are said to be held inside the Jewish centre in Mumbai.

Indian security personnel are trying to break into the Nariman House, also known as the Chabad House.

The Israeli foreign ministry said it was trying to locate 20 missing Israelis in Mumbai.

Chabad House is a popular stop that provides different services to visiting Israeli tourists, including kosher food.

Around 4,000 full-time emissary families direct more than 3,300 Chabad institutions around the world.

The Israeli foreign ministry is also exploring the possibility of sending a team of Israeli doctors based in New Delhi to Mumbai to assist the local authorities in treating the injured, according to the Israel Project, an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel.

“Plans are also put in place for Israel to deliver medical supplies and other equipment to India,” it said.

The Israeli embassy in New Delhi said it is not clear about how many Israelis have been hit by the terror strike in Mumbai Wednesday that killed at least 124 people and left more than 320 injured.

“We are preparing to send a team of doctors, paramedics, medical assistants and professionals and are preparing for the possibility that we may be called to treat victims in hospitals or locate families and friends,” said Israel’s international emergency medical organisation Magen David Adom Spokesman Zaki Heller.

“We have already made contact with the joint organisation’s envoys in the area to help us understand what is needed,” Heller said.

Israel’s Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister Tzipi Livni has strongly condemned terror attacks in Mumbai. “This is further painful evidence that the terrorist threat is the greatest challenge which Israel and the international community have to face,” Livni said.

Livni spoke to the Israel Consul General in Mumbai, who updated her on the latest developments. “The ministry of foreign affairs and the consulate are making maximum efforts to ascertain the situation of the Israelis in the city as quickly as possible,” the Israeli foreign office said in a statement.

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