Ten years after the attacks perpetrated by Mohammed Merah, which killed seven people, including Jewish children, Emmanuel Macron and Israeli President Isaac Herzog paid tribute, on Sunday March 20 in Toulouse, to the victims of ” barbarism “. “We are here together for those who have been hit by barbarism to tell them that we support them”underlined the French president by closing a moving ceremony, alongside his Israeli counterpart and his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande.
Before the speech of the two presidents, Samuel Sandler, father and grandfather of Jonathan, Gabriel and Arié, killed in March 2012, spoke in front of some two hundred people. “Since this carnage, I have been living under anesthesia, like a ghost. Their absence haunts me”he said in front of an upset audience, believing that ” the war “ against his own, the Jews, “never stopped”.
On March 19, 2012, around 8 a.m. at the Jewish school Ozar Hatorah, renamed Ohr Torah, two children, Myriam Monsonégo, 8, and Gabriel Sandler, 3, were shot dead at close range in the playground by Mohammed Merah , a 23-year-old radicalized offender. A few seconds before, Arié Sandler, 6, and his father, Jonathan Sandler, had also succumbed to the bullets of the scooter killer.
“We did not lower our heads”
denouncing “diabolical raids”paying tribute to the victims one by one, Emmanuel Macron recalled that, “That day, for the first time in France, a school was the battlefield of Islamist fundamentalism”. Beyond “innocent lives snuffed out”it’s a “whole country that was struck to the heart by destructive madness and betrayed religion”, he said. Those “pure and innocent children”killed by “a vile assassin, full of burning hatred”, “God will avenge them”underlined for his part Isaac Herzog, the Israeli president.
Emmanuel Macron added: “We are stronger than the terrorists, we are holding on, we have not lowered our heads, we have not lowered our arms”. In the afternoon, the two leaders had laid a wreath in the courtyard of the Ohr Torah school, at the foot of the “tree of life”, a monument in homage to the victims.
Mohammed Merah had started his murderous journey a week earlier to shoot down, in Toulouse then in Montauban, three soldiers, Imad Ibn Ziaten, Abel Chennouf and Mohamed Legouad, and cause irreversible injuries to a fourth soldier, Loïc Liber, who had become a quadriplegic.
Nearly two thousand people were invited for the ceremonies, organized by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France.
Sunday morning, before the arrival of MM. Macron and Herzog, the schoolyard was first filled with former students, witnesses of the attack, who came from all over the world for a poignant ceremony around the rabbi and director of the establishment, Yaacov Monsonégo , whose daughter Myriam perished under the bullets of Mohamed Merah.
“The pain is intense, what happened was traumatic and the absence will never be filled, but it is the will to live and the solidarity within the establishment that will be the strongest”testified Ava Ouaknine, 19, friend of Myriam Monsonégo.