Victims of the shooting outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France were laid to rest in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening.
The bodies of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 3, and an 8-year-old girl named Myriam Monsenego were flown from southern France to Israel, where they were buried in the Har HaMenuchot, or Mount of Rest, cemetery after a funeral service.
Speaking in fluent French, Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a message of solidarity to the Jews in France mourning Monday's attack.
This is a unique expression of the deep relations between France and Israel... The actions of President Sarkozy during these difficult events prove that Israel and France are on the same front in search of peace and all-out war against terrorism,” Peres said.
“You can be confident: France is doing everything and will do everything so that there will be full safety in schools and synagogues, so that a criminal act such as this will never happen again,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe replied, while attending the Israeli service.
During the memorial service, the two leaders were flanked by Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi, Parliament speaker Reuben Rivlin and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.
“Our hearts are with the Jews of France and with the Ozar Hatorah institutions that took such a hard and painful blow. The pain is unimaginable, God is testing us,” said Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who delivered a eulogy.
French national Mohammed Merah has been identified as the shooter. Merah, who has a French father and Algerian mother, is believed to be an al Qaeda sympathizer who shot seven people as a payback for the death and suffering of Palestinian children and for France's involvement in Afghanistan.
Merah is said to have taken clandestine trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past few years, and there are reports that he was imprisoned for bomb-making in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, although local authorities have since said that they have never detained a French citizen named Mohammad Merah.
“All I can say is that we have this guy Mohammed Merah in our records, but he’s an Afghan citizen,” Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq, the police chief of Kandahar Province, told the New York Times.
“He’s certainly not French.”
French police targeted Merah because of his connections to Afghanistan, and were able to find him by tracking the IP address he used to contact the French soldier shot to death on March 11. Authorities, who have trapped Merah inside an apartment building, believe that if they hadn't identified him, Merah would have killed again.
Mehar told negotiators he envisaged other murders, including one this morning of a soldier outside his home. He had other criminal projects, including two policemen in Toulouse; he expresses no regret except not to have killed any other victims and claims to have brought France to its knees, said Paris prosecutor François Molins.
Mehar doesn’t have the soul of suicide bomber -- was happy to kill but not die for cause. He was a loner who was capable of staying locked in at home for long periods and fantasied on ultra-violent Internet clips such as beheadings, the prosecutor added.