Israel synagogue unveils memorial plaque for Jewish victims of 26/11 Mumbai attacks

PTI, Nov 27, 2020, 9:13 AM IST

Eilat/Beersheva: Jewish outreach movement Chabad has unveiled a plaque at its synagogue in Israel’s southern coastal city of Eilat in the memory of six Jews killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, demanding that the perpetrators of the carnage be brought to justice.

Rav Hecht and First Secretary at the Embassy of India in Israel Rohit Mishra unveiled the plaque mounted on a wall inside the synagogue.

“To the memory and rise of souls of Rabbi Gavriel Noah and Rivka Holtsberg, who were martyred during the time of their holy mission in a terror attack at Chabad House in Mumbai, India, from which the message of Torah was being spread all over the area. And for the four guests who stayed in Chabad House at the time of the attack, and were also martyred: Rabi Gavriel Taitelbaum, Mrs Norma Rabinovich, Rabi Ben-Zion Kurman, Mrs Yocheved Orpaz. May their souls be bound up in the bond of eternal life” read the 3A paper size plaque that was unveiled on Thursday.

Engraved on a hard plastic plate, the message was personally drafted by Rav Hecht.

The Mumbai Chabad House at Nariman Point was one of the targets of the attacks. Ten terrorists of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai.

At least 166 people, including six Jews, were killed and over 300 others were injured in the attacks which began on November 26, 2008.

The Chabad Movement and Jews of Indian origin in Eilat have also requested Mayor Meir Itzhak Ha Levi to set up a 26/11 memorial square in the city on the lines of the one dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 attack.

The mayor has reacted favourably to the proposal, extending all help and support, representatives of the Sitar Organisation for Indian Immigrants in Eilat said.

The Sitar Organisation also put up a plaque in the memory of the six Jewish victims of 26/11 at its club on Thursday. The plaque was unveiled at a sombre ceremony which was also attended by Deputy Mayor of Eilat Stas Dinkin.

Fleur Hassan Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem for foreign relations, said those who masterminded and funded these brutal attacks should be punished.

“Today Israel mourns with India on the anniversary of the senseless acts of terror in Mumbai that took the lives of 166 people, including the Holtzberg family from Israel and other members of the Chabad House,” Nahoum said.

“India has always been a beacon of tolerance for Jewish communities and we should not stop until we find the masterminds and funders of these brutal attacks and bring them to justice,” he said.

Ceremonies to pay respects to the victims of the 26/11 attacks were also held in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva on Thursday. Indians and Israelis lit candles in the memory of the innocent victims.

“It is a shame that the masterminds of the attack like Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Lakhvi are roaming around freely. It is a shared pain between India and Israel and we must do everything to bring them to justice,” said Ankit Chauhan, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University.

At a separate ceremony held at Beersheva Cricket Club that was mostly attended by Jews of Indian origin and Rabbi Meir Simcha of the Chabad Movement, the attendees condemned Pakistan and called for India and Israel to stand together in the fight against terror.

“We are proud to have friends like India. Our scriptures say that the word ‘Hodu’ (Hebrew word for India) comes from Hodaya, which means thanks and gratefulness, and we genuinely feel thankful to have friends like you all. We share this pain and it strengthens our resolve to stay together,” Rabbi Simcha said.

Israeli lawmaker and former minister of defence Moshe Ya’alon also paid respects to the victims of 26/11.

“Some of those behind the attack, to this day, have not faced justice. Israel, India and the entire Western world are united in preserving the legacy of the victims, and in collaborating on the fight to eradicate terror throughout the world,” Ya’alon said in a tweet.

People had also gathered to pay their respects to the victims of the Mumbai attacks in Tel Aviv, Rehovot and Jerusalem on Wednesday. They held posters of victims, pictures of the mayhem in Mumbai and flags of India and Israel.

“Terrorists from Pakistan, who perpetrated these horrific attacks hoped that by striking the places where our countries and people come together, they would succeed in driving us apart. But they failed miserably in their attempts as this actually brought the people and governments of India and Israel closer than ever before,” said Pramod Sharma, counsellor at the Embassy of India.

“India and Israel are now strategic partners cooperating in several spheres, including against terrorism. Both countries are in agreement that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever. We thank Israel for standing with India in our endeavour of defeating this scourge,” Sharma said.

The Indian Heritage Jewish Centre headed by Avner Isaac also organised a Zoom meeting on Thursday evening to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the attacks. Hundreds of people from all over the world took part in the virtual event.

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