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Bodies of French school-shooting victims arrive in Israel for burial

March 21, 2012 |  1:42 am

The coffins carrying the bodies of four Jewish victims from this week's shooting attack on a school in Toulouse, France, arrived in Israel for a funeral that drew hundreds of mourners, supporters and family members
REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- The coffins carrying the bodies of four Jewish victims from this week's shooting attack on a school in Toulouse, France, arrived in Israel early Wednesday morning for a funeral that drew hundreds of mourners, supporters and family members.

After a brief religious ceremony on the tarmac of Ben Gurion Airport, the bodies of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his sons, Arieh, 6, and Gabriel, 3, and another student at the Toulouse school, Miriam Monsonego, 8, were taken to cemetery on the western slopes of Jerusalem. All four were shot Monday by a gunman.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who accompanied the coffins, was greeted by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Reacting to reports that the suspect may be an Islamic extremist linked to Al Qaeda, Ayalon condemned the "deep hatred by fanatic Islamists ... not only against Jews but against anyone different from them."

The three children held dual French-Israeli citizenship. Sandler was born in France and moved back and forth to Israel as a religious teacher. His wife is Israeli, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

The Israeli government paid for the funeral. "Because Israeli citizens were killed in a terror attack, the government decided to pay for the repatriation of the bodies and burial," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

The suspect in the shooting, who was surrounded by French police Wednesday morning in a house in Toulouse, has reportedly told French negotiators that the attack was motivated by a desire to "avenge" the deaths of Palestinian children.

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-- Edmund Sanders

Photo: French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, second from right, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, left, and family members of the victims stand beside the coffin of one of the victims of the Toulouse school shootings as the bodies are repatriated from France. Credit: Israeli Foreign Ministry / Getty Images

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