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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eight Dead in Mumbai Chabad Center Attack

[29/11/08] Following discovery of two additional bodies, there are now eight dead in the Mumbai Chabad Center attack. More bodies may be discovered as police go through the booby trapped rooms. According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, some of the bodies discovered earlier had been restrained and were dead for some hours. They were not killed in the rescue operation. Four of the victims have been identified: Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg (His name is also reported as "Noach") and his wife Rivka, and two Kashrut Supervisors, Leibish Teitlebaum from Brooklyn and Ben-Zion Croman, Israeli-American.  
In total 195 persons are so far counted dead in the attacks. More victims may be found. Indian police claimed the attack was over as the last of the gunmen were killed in the Taj Mahal hotel. The attacks were carred out, evidently, by ten terrorists who arrived by sea, of whom one has been caught, and by accomplices in Mumbai. Earlier reports claimed there were as many as thirty terrorists, a figure quoted by D.M. Ehud Barak in the Friday interview on Israel TV Channel 1.  
Israelis rescued from Mumbai complained that Indian authorities were extremely slow to react and get organized, and that Indian police beat escaping hostages, mistaking them for terrorists.
Israel offered all manner of help to Indian officials, D.M. Barak said, including assistance "that is inappropriate to detail here."
Israel's ambasssador to India, Mark Sofer, however, consistently dismissed reports that Israeli commandos took part in the operation
India has publicly refused Israeli offers of help, but there seems to be some quiet cooperation.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem, said Friday that it was no coincidence the Chabad center had been attacked.
"There is no doubt, we know, that the targets the terrorists singled out were Jewish, Israeli targets and targets identified with the West, Americans and Britons," Livni said.
"Our world is under attack, it doesn't matter whether it happens in India or somewhere else," she added. "There are Islamic extremists who don't accept our existence or Western values."
Livni's remarks have been taken out of context to emphasize that she said Israelis were targeted.
"Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the beloved directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, were killed during one of the worst terrorist attacks to strike India in recent memory," the New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch Movement said in a statement.
Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, was born in Israel and moved to the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn with his parents when he was nine. His 28-year-old wife, born Rivka Rosenberg, was a native of Afula.
They arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to serve the small Jewish community there, running a synagogue and Torah classes, and assisting Jewish tourists to the seaside city.
"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, said in a statement.
"As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists."

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