European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has condemned the deadly shooting of four people, including three children, outside a Jewish school in France as an “odious crime”.
“In the name of the European Commission, I strongly condemn this odious crime and express the horror that this blind violence inspires. Nothing is more intolerable than the murder of innocent children,” he said today.
A gunman burst into a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse, killing three children and a teacher in the third deadly gun attack in a week by a man who made his escape on a motorbike.
The children, aged three, six and 10, and a 30-year-old religious education teacher were mowed down as they arrived for class at the Ozar Hatorah school, officials said.
“I want to present my most sincere condolences to the families of the victims. Our thoughts go to the wounded and to all the children of this college who lost several comrades,” Barroso said.
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The Belgian interior minister, Joelle Milquet, ordered police to be “particularly vigilant” around Jewish buildings in Belgium, notably schools, following the Toulouse shooting.
Belgian authorities have provided extra security around Jewish interests for many years due to past threats.
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said separately that he learned about the shooting in France “with horror and indignation”.
European Jewish groups denounced the deadly shooting as a “barbarity” and urged authorities to do everything to catch the gunman.
“While many of the details are still emerging, it appears that this was a premeditated attack with the intention to murder Jewish children,” said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress.
“We hope the authorities will spare no resources in apprehending the perpetrator,” he said, following the shooting in the southeastern city of Toulouse that left three children dead.
A gunman burst into the school, shooting dead three children and a teacher in the third deadly gun attack in a week by a man who made his escape on a motorbike.
The children, aged three, six and 10, and a 30-year-old religious education teacher were mowed down as they arrived for class at the Ozar Hatorah school.
“Whoever did this is looking to target the Jewish community at its weakest point, its youth, in the hopes of spreading fear throughout the community,” Kantor said.
“They will not succeed, the Jews of Europe in general and the Jews of France in particular have a long history of standing firm against hatred and violence.
“I know, as a community, French Jewry will send a message of strength and resilience in the face of those who wish to terrorise them.”
The attack, he said, had “once again shown the necessity of education against anti-Semitism and intolerance.
“While this perpetrator will hopefully be caught, we need to stop all the future would-be perpetrators by mandating a greater level of education against hate, intolerance and racism.
“The greatest defence against race-based murder is not by creating higher walls and more effective security systems, but by teaching and imparting tolerance in the classrooms.”
The Brussels-based Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) said: “It is difficult to believe that the main challenge to European Jewry remains anti-Semitism and threats to their lives.”
RCE deputy director Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg said: “This act of barbarity and murder will be met with a Jewish response.
“We will bury the dead, look after the injured, and we will demand justice is pursued through the appropriate channels.
“This attack is an attack on the whole Jewish community; we feel the pain of the families who have lost loved ones and as a community we will show our reaction,” Goldberg said in a statement.
“If there are people who want to scare the Jewish community into submission, our response will be to show them that we will not be bowed, the opposite is true. We will build more schools, synagogues and other Jewish institutions.”.