JERUSALEM —Israeli leaders gathered with the families of the four Jewish victims of a Paris terror attack on a kosher supermarket for an emotional funeral procession in Jerusalem.
Relatives of the victims each spoke briefly and lit a torch in memory of their loved ones before stepping off the stage with a huge Israeli flag in the background to embrace Israel’s president, the prime minister and his wife.
Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, Francois-Michel Saada and Phillipe Braham died Friday during a tense hostage standoff at the market on the eastern edge of Paris. The bodies were brought by plane to Israel early Tuesday morning.
“Yoav, Yohan, Phillipe, Francois-Michel — this is not how we wanted to welcome you to Israel,” President Reuven Rivlin said, his voice quivering. “We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life. At moments such as these, I stand before you, brokenhearted, shaken and in pain, and with me stands and cries an entire nation.”
The four were among 17 people killed in a wave of terror attacks carried out over three days last week by militants claiming allegiance to al-Qaida and the Islamic State extremist groups.
The killings shocked France’s 500,000 strong Jewish community _ the largest in Europe _ and deepened fears among European Jewish communities already shaken by rising anti-Semitism and threats from Muslim extremists.
The attack sparked calls from Israeli leaders for European Jews to immigrate to the Jewish state, a call repeated by Rivlin.
“However, returning to your ancestral home need not be due to distress, out of desperation, amidst destruction, or in the throes of terror and fear,” he said. “Terror has never kept us down, and we do not want terror to subdue you. The Land of Israel is the land of choice. We want you to choose Israel, because of a love for Israel.”