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Hollande Leads Unity March Through Paris

VOA News, French President Francois Hollande is leading hundreds of thousands of people through the streets of Paris on Sunday, in a massive demonstration to show solidarity with the victims of a terror spree last week that killed 17 people.

World leaders joined Hollande in the capital, as more than a million people participated in the "unity" rally through the city's streets.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are also taking part, along with the king and queen of Jordan. The United States Representative is Attorney General Eric Holder.

Acts of terrorism

French officials have called the January 7 massacre at the Paris officers of the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo and a series of deadly attacks that followed acts of terrorism.

A video of one of the alleged perpetrators that emerged posthumously on social media Sunday describes the killings as retribution for the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State air campaign, in which France is a partner.

This screengrab taken on Jan. 11, 2015, from a video released on Islamist social networks shows a man allegedly claiming to be Amedy Coulibaly.
This screengrab taken on Jan. 11, 2015, from a video released on Islamist social networks shows a man allegedly claiming to be Amedy Coulibaly.
It shows a man believed to be Coulibaly, who French police say is tied to the fatal shooting of a policewoman and a deadly siege of a kosher grocery store after the newspaper attack.

French police also announced Sunday that a gun used to hold up a kosher grocery store in Paris on Friday was the same used in an assault that seriously wounded a jogger two days earlier.

Coulibaly was killed when police stormed the market. Four hostages were killed in that attack.

Holder announced from Paris Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama would invite world leaders to Washington February 18 for a summit on countering violent extremism.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said from India on Sunday no act of terror would halt "the march of freedom."

"We may all come from different walks of life, but we stand together this morning with the people of France, as they march in tribute to the victims of last week's murderous attack on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. And we stand together not just in anger and outrage, but in solidarity and commitment to the cause of confronting extremism," Kerry said.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Sunday in Israel before leaving for Paris that he will convene a special ministerial team to increase Jewish immigration to Israel from France and the rest of Europe, adding "the state of Israel is not only the place you pray for, the state of Israel is also your home."

Security is expected to remain tight across the nation for weeks as investigators continue their hunt for the girlfriend of one of three gunmen killed Friday as the two hostage dramas riveted television viewers across the world.

Female suspect

Police originally suspected that 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, described as armed and dangerous, was at the supermarket when her partner, Amedy Coulibaly, killed four hostages before being shot dead by security forces.

But Turkish officials quoted Saturday say the woman entered Turkey January 2 and is now likely in Syria.

Boumeddiene has been pictured in the past wearing traditional female Islamic clothing and shooting a crossbow.

Amedy Coulibaly was an associate of brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi. The siblings - killed in a separate shootout Friday - have been identified as perpetrators of Wednesday's attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo.

The publication had gained recognition for creating and publishing cartoons lampooning the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Twelve people, including eight journalists and two police officers, were killed in that rampage.

As security forces closed in on the brothers Friday outside Paris, Said Kouachi told reporters by phone that he received training and financing from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. He mentioned his ties to Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who by 2011 had become a senior figure in AQAP and its public face.

Awlaki was killed in September 2011 in Yemen when two U.S. Predator drones operated by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command targeted his vehicle.

AQAP training

American, European and Yemeni sources confirmed that Said Kouachi trained with AQAP, which has publicly praised the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. An audio recording posted on YouTube and attributed to a leader of the group said the attack was prompted by insults to the prophet Muhammad.

Police in Germany said Sunday they have detained two men suspected of an arson attack against a newspaper that republished the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad seen in Charlie Hebdo.

Police officials did not release any details about the men, but added that no one was hurt in the attack on the Hamburger Morgenpost.
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Terror attack on kosher supermarket in Paris, Victims to be buried in Israel

PM Netanyahu: The international community must take united action against the terrorists from extremist Islam and against the terrorist infrastructures that support them.
PM Netanyahu has acceded to the request of the families of the victims of the terrorist attack at the Jewish supermarket in Paris and instructed all relevant government officials to assist in bringing them for burial in Israel.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with French President Francois Hollande, who informed him that four hostages had been killed in the terrorist attack on a supermarket in Paris and that 15 hostages had been rescued.

Prime Minister Netanyahu began the conversation in French and told President Hollande, "The entire people of Israel are with you." He added, "Our hearts are with the families of the victims. Israel offers any assistance that France needs."

Prime Minister Netanyahu asked President Hollande to maintain heightened security at Jewish institutions even after the return to routine. The Prime Minister added that the international community must take united action against the terrorists from extremist Islam and against the terrorist infrastructures that support them, action that would strike at the sources of financing for terrorism and the network of incitement that encourages such acts.

Earlier, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and offered the State of Israel’s assistance in any sphere that the French authorities might require.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke with his French counterpart about security at Jewish institutions in France and noted that it was essential to strike at the sources of financing for extremist Islamic terrorist organizations and to take action against the incitement in Europe that encourages such actions.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke with CRIF President Roger Cukierman and French National Assembly member Meyer Habib and asked them to convey to the French Jewish community that the Israeli people are with them in this difficult hour. The Prime Minister also asked them to adhere to security directives at Jewish institutions.

Shortly after being updated on the terrorist attack at the kosher market, Prime Minister Netanyahu held a conference call with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Foreign Ministry Director General Nissim Ben-Shetrit, Mossad Director Tamir Pardo and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen. The Prime Minister instructed that all possible assistance be granted to the French authorities and that security directives be underscored at Israeli missions and Jewish institutions.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement:

"On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I would like to send our condolences to the French Jewish community and the French people who have suffered a murderous terrorist assault in the last few days. These attacks in Paris are the continuation of extremist Islam’s war against our free civilization, in the West, in the entire modern world and also in the moderate Arab states and among entire publics in the Islamic world. This is a wave of terrorism that is spreading a global net of hatred, fanaticism and murder. After establishing its bases in the Middle East, terrorism is now sending its arms throughout the world. If the world does not take action quickly, we will find this terrorism gaining momentum and increasingly striking at other centers of the free world and in other places.

The terrorist organizations of extremist Islam have many and varied names - Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Nusra, Islamic Jihad and Boko Haram. They are all motivated by the same bloody hatred and the same fanaticism that knows no borders.

They want to take humanity 1,000 years backward to a dark tyranny that we freed ourselves from after many generations. They simply want to take humanity backward.

Further proof that these organizations are branches of the same poisonous tree may be seen in the fact that one of Hamas’s official organs praised the reprehensible murderers in Paris. It must be understood that this is a war against us all.

I am convinced that if we are united this terrorism will be unable to defeat us. But if we ignore the true root of the problem, if we ignore the fact that extremist Islamic terrorism seeks to exterminate Western civilization as a whole, including the Jewish People, if we ignore this - what we are now seeing in Paris will be only the beginning. These are not frightening words or prophecies of rage, this is the simple reality and the time has come to recognize it.

Last night I spoke with French Prime minister Manuel Valls and with French President Francois Hollande. I commended the determination with which the French authorities eliminated the terrorists, these murderers, and I also commended the courage of the French security services. But this is not enough. In order to fight terrorism, it is essential to strike at its sources of financing and at the centers of incitement that encourage these murderous acts throughout Europe. It is also essential to take action against countries that give support, shelter and passage to terrorism.

The first law is that it is forbidden to give in to the fear that it seeks to instil in us. In order to fight terrorism it is simply necessary to fight it. We express our deepest sorrow over the French citizens who were murdered, the journalists, the police officers and the innocent citizens who were murdered simply because they were citizens of the free world. We express our deepest sorrow over our Jewish brothers who were murdered simply because they were Jews. Our brothers and sisters in the French Jewish community, we grieve with you over the terrible loss. I would like to send condolences to the families of Yoav Hattab, Philippe Barham, Johan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada. We also send our best wishes for a quick recovery to all the wounded.

This evening, I spoke by telephone with Celine Shreki, who was a hostage in the kosher market in the heart of Paris; she is recovering. She told me about the terrorist’s inconceivable cruelty and of the heroism of the young Jewish man who attempted to seize his weapon and shoot him; he was shot by the terrorist and died about 45 minutes later.

To Celine and all French Jews, and to all European Jews, I would like to say: The State of Israel is not just the place to which you turn in prayer. The State of Israel is also your home. This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism. All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state."



President Rivlin speaks with French Jewish community heads in emergency meeting following terror attacks

President Reuven Rivlin spoke by telephone with the heads of CRIF, the French Jewish community organization, during their emergency meeting of over sixty community leaders, following the murderous attacks of the past week.

The President told them, "I speak to you tonight, not only as President of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people as a whole."

He continued, “We are all, here in Israel, grieving and hurting with you, we share in the sorrow of the families, the Jewish community, and of the French people. We are one family and our pain is severe. In moments such as these, we are ever aware of the responsibility we have to one another, and the deep bond that connects us as one.

“These most recent events make plain that terrorism is terrorism. It does not distinguish between blood, and it threatens indiscriminately across the world. These attacks weigh heavily on the understanding of the extent of the spread of fundamentalism. Attacks on newspapers, just as attacks on supermarkets full of innocent civilians preparing for the Sabbath, are not events that humanity can tolerate. We must not give in to terrorism in any way, shape or form, and we will overcome this threat."

The President concluded, “Tonight, the State of Israel is by your side, just as you stand by us in difficult times. As one family, we feel pain together, as we well know - but moreover we know, that we rejoice together too - and together, tonight we will pray, for happier times, and for comfort.

The community leaders joined in the President's prayer, and thanked him for his warm words.
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Terror in Paris: Presumed killer takes hostages in kosher supermarket, including baby

WJC, At least five people were taken hostage at a kosher supermarket in Paris after a shootout on Friday. At least one person was reportedly wounded. An 11-month-old baby is said to be among the hostages.

The suspect was armed with two guns, 'Reuters' quoted a police source as saying. Reports said that one person was wounded in the attack in the eastern part of the French capital, as SWAT teams surrounded the area. French President ordered the country’s top security official to the scene, an official in the presidency told the 'Associated Press'.

There are also unconfirmed reports that the gunman, named by police as 32-year-old Amedy Coulibaly, is refusing to release any of the hostages until the Kouachi brothers, the presumed perpetrators of the 'Charlie Hebdo' massacre, are allowed to flee the police siege north of Paris.

Kosher restaurants were closing across Paris and schools in the area were on lockdown.

Jewish schools in Paris close down

The supermarket is located just 800 meters from the ORT Daniel Mayer High School in Montreuil. The siege started at 1 pm local time as many students were leaving the school to go home for Shabbat. The Jewish school, which usually shuts at 2.30pm on Fridays, closed as soon as staff learned of the crisis. “People are terrified,” said Elio Lumbroso, ORT Daniel Mayer’s Educational Development Manager, who was among staff still at the school looking after a dozen students who were still waiting to be collected by their parents. “We had three police officers stationed outside the school after the Charlie Hebdo attack – they all got into a car and left to attend the kosher supermarket.”

The situation was made worse by reports that jihadists had entered another Jewish school in Paris. “We have a girl here in tears because she just had a call from her brother who is at the school,” Lumbroso said. “They are evacuating in small groups. It’s terrible, terrible.”

The gunman at the supermarket was suspected of being the same man who killed a policewoman in Montrouge, southern Paris, on Thursday. He is thought to have links to the assailants who stormed satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' a day earlier and suspected to be a member of the same jihadist group as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who on Friday morning were holed up in a factory near Charles de Gaulle airport.

In Thursday's attack, the gunman was wearing a bullet-proof vest and was carrying a pistol and an automatic rifle. He opened fire and killed the trainee policewoman, named as Clarissa Jean-Philippe, 25. A street sweeper was seriously injured in the incident. The shooting is being treated as a "terrorist act" by the French authorities.

Twelve people were killed and many others wounded when masked gunmen stormed the offices 'Charlie Hebdo' on Wednesday and opened fire.

Jewish sites have previously been targets for terrorist attacks in France. In 2012, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed a teacher and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. The gunman, a 23-year-old Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent said he attacked the school because "the Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine."
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Outrage in France after brutal attack against Jewish couple near Paris

France is in shock after a young Jewish couple was assaulted in what police are treating as an anti-Semitic attack.

WJC, Two adult men from Créteil, the Paris suburb where the attack took place, have been arrested by police in connection with the crime while a third suspect is still being sought.
The attack occurred on Monday. Three men armed with a pistol and a shotgun stormed the home of a Jewish family in Créteil, one of the eastern outskirts of French capital. After knocking on the door of the apartment and then breaking in, they demanded money and shouted anti-Semitic insults.

One of the sons in the family, 21 years of age, was there at the time with his 19-year-old girlfriend while the parents were away. One of the assailants proceeded to withdraw money from the nearest ATM with the couple's stolen debit cards while the two others remained in the apartment with the couple. The duo then raped the woman and tied up the man. After hearing them scream, a neighbor called the police.

According to a report by France's BFM website, the assailants targeted this particular couple because they mistakenly thought the male victim, a salesman at a popular clothing store at the Creteil mall, was the store's manager and had access to large amounts of money. Before the rape, the men demanded that the couple hand over their credit cards and codes, the couple later told police.

"Tell us where you hide the money," said one of the assailants during the robbery, according to one of the victims' friends in the BFM report. "You Jews always have money.”

Reactions

The French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF strongly condemned what it termed “a savage anti-Semitic aggression” and urged authorities to act against growing anti-Semitism in the country:

“Anti-Semitism is continuing to rage across our country: Anti-Semitic prejudice is becoming stronger and increasingly perturbing, as revealed a recent survey of Fondapol/Ifop about anti-Semitism in France. We call for a specific plan to be urgently put in place whose aim it must be to deploy unprecedented judicial and police measures to reverse this trend. The CRIF expresses its support to the victims and their families,” the CRIF statement said.

France has seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitism in recent years, and it flared particularly during this Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, with violent protests in Paris and other French cities.

On Thursday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the attack as “vile” and said that it demonstrated that the fight against anti-Semitism was a daily struggle.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement on Wednesday that the attack’s "anti-Semitic nature seems proven" as the assailants had "started with the idea that being Jewish means having money.”
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