Victims of Toulouse attack on way to Israel for burial
Caskets carrying the bodies of the four Jews who were murdered in Monday's attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse are due to arrive in Israel in the early morning hours of Wednesday morning.
Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons Gabriel and Arieh and 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of school headmaster Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego, will be laid to rest in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul Cemetery a few hours later.
After French police said former soldiers who were thought to have been involved in the shootings were cleared of any suspicion, the TF1 television network released the first photos of the gunman aboard the scooter used in the attack inToulouse.
The scooter, moments before the attack
According to the TF1 report, the gunman was filmed just moments before the massacre. Police have been searching for the stolen Yamaha TMAX 530 scooter since Tuesday, the report said. The scooter's license plate number is CA-676-RT. It was stolen on March 6, according to the French station.
On Monday French media outlets reported that the same 45-caliber weapon and the same stolen scooter used by the gunman during the attack on the Jewish school had been used in the two previous shooting attacks on soldiers in Toulouse and Montauban.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said the killings at the school and those of the soldiers, one of Caribbean and two of Muslim origin, appeared to be motivated by racism.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is expected to arrive in Israel Wednesday to take part in the funerals. Knesset Speaker Rueven Rivlin, ministers Yuli Edelstein and Eli Yishai are also expected to attend, as are chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar.
Sarkozy took part in a closed-door memorial ceremony at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris before the victims' bodies were put on an airplane en route to Israel.
ZAKA's representative in France told Ynet "we are in very close contact with the victims' families – who are getting support from the Jewish community."
He said Rabbi Sandler's infant daughter cried during the ceremony at the airport. "It reminded me of little Moishe (the two-year-old son of Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, who were brutally murdered in the 2008 terror attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai)," said the representative of the Israeli rescue service. "He also cried during the memorial ceremony (for the Mumbai attack victims).
The uncle of Rabbi Sandler's widow told AP she spends the night listening to her surviving one-year-old daughter cry "Papa! Papa! Papa!"
"It tears your heart. In the end you just run out of tears for crying so much," Marc Alloul said.
British newspaper The Telegraph reported Tuesday night that footage from surveillance cameras at the Ozar HaTorah school showed that one of the rabbi's sons was executed as he crawled away on his hands and knees while his father and brother lay dying on the pavement.
A 16-year old pupil with knowledge of first aid bravely attempted to resuscitate one of the boys, keeping him alive until paramedics arrived, the report said.
A weapons expert estimated that the shooter used a Colt 45 handgun and a mini-UZI submachine gun, indicating that he may be linked in some way to the French army.
The president of the French arms dealer's association said that it could be possible that the shooter served in the army, but noted there are other ways to obtain an Uzi illegally. He added that buying a .45 Colt is a complex process, requiring extensive training and an application for a license from the police or the army.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins warned earlier that the shooter might act again. He stressed that all seven victims of the gunman – including the four who were killed at the Jewish school, as well as three soldiers killed in the Toulouse region over the past two weeks – were killed with bullets to the head and were shot at close range.
The investigation into the attack found that the shooter used a type of camera that is often employed by those who partake in extreme sports – a finding indicating the assailant might have been inspired by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who went on a shooting rampage that killed 77 people at a summer camp outside Oslo last July.
In a racist manifesto published ahead of his massacre, Breivik called on his followers to document their own killing rampages using the same type of camera.
French Foreign Minister Juppe promised that authorities will "apprehend the monster" who perpetrated the attack in Toulouse and bring him to justice.