French Jewish Terror Victims Laid to Rest in Israel.
The bodies of the four Jews killed in the terrorist attack last Friday at a kosher supermarket in Paris were flown to Israel on an El Al plane on Monday night, and were buried midday Tuesday in a funeral service attended by thousands at Jerusalem's Givat Shaul (Har Hamenuchot) Cemetery.
After the bodies of Yoav Hattab, Philippe Barham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport, relatives who had escorted the bodies from Paris held prayers on the tarmac. The bodies were then taken to Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had ordered all relevant government officials to assist in bringing the deceased to Israel for burial. Tuesday's funeral service was attended by numerous Israeli political and religious figures, including Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog. The French government was officially represented at the funeral by Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Minister Segolene Royal.
Speaking at the funeral, Rivlin said, "Yoav, Yohan, Philippe and Francois-Michel, this is not how we wanted to welcome you to Israel. This is not how we wanted you to arrive in the Land of Israel. This is not how we wanted to see you come home, to the State of Israel, and to Jerusalem, its capital. We wanted you alive and we wanted for you, life. At moments such as these, I stand before you, brokenhearted, shaken and pained, and with me stands and cries an entire nation."
Rivlin said the victims were killed "in cold blood, because they were Jewish. The murderer made sure to be in a Jewish shop, and only then did he carry out the massacre. This was pure, venomous evil, which stirs the very worst of memories. This is sheer hatred of Jews, abhorrent, dark and premeditated, which seeks to strike wherever there is Jewish life. In Paris, in Jerusalem, in Toulouse, and in Tel Aviv. In Brussels, and in Mumbai. In the streets, and in the synagogues. In the schools, and in the local market. In the train stations, and in the museums."
Rivlin continued, "We cannot allow it to be the case that in the year 2015, 70 years since the end of the Second World War, Jews are afraid to walk in the streets of Europe with kippot and tzitziot [ritual fringes]. It cannot be allowed that we should see in the news frequent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, of Jews being beaten, and of synagogues and communities under attack. It is no longer possible to ignore or remain ambiguous, or to act weakly or with leniency against the rabid anti-Semitic incitement. Ignorance and violence will not simply go away on their own."
Addressing French Jews, Rivlin said, "Our land is your land, our home is your home. 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. 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."
Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett announced Tuesday night that the Jewish community of Paris will not have to pay for the burial plots and funerals of the Hyper Cacher victims. Each of the families of the four Paris kosher market victims, laid to rest Tuesday in Jerusalem, was asked to pay 50,000 shekels to the Chevra Kadisha for the burial plot and funeral, Ynet was told, after refusing to bury their loves ones in multi-story tombs.
Following the report, Minister Limor Livnat clarified to Bennett that charging for the services went against the commitments given to her by representatives of the ministry. Late Tuesday night, Bennett and his deputy minister said the ministry would carry the costs of the proceedings.
Chevra Kadisha, the Jewish burial society subordinate to the Ministry of Religious Services, was to collect payment from the Jewish community of France. The questions over the location and the pricing of the burial plots a for Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, and Francois-Michel Saada a developed over the past few days into a dramatic saga.
Initially, the families were offered to bury their dearly departed at the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, but heightened security tensions dissuaded the families and the government, who took the decision to bury the four at Har HeMenuchot in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem's largest cemetery.
Businesswoman Eva Sarfati offered to donate four plots in a private section she owns at the heart of the cemetery. However, the manager of Cheva Kadisha in Jerusalem, Hillel Horovitz, pressured the Parisian community to refuse the offer, claiming it was illegal.
The families were then offered free multi-storey burial plots, which they denied, and were finally sold four plots at 40,000 shekels a tomb. The Jewish community in Paris, though, has been asked to pay 40,000 shekels to cover the funeral expenses, because the victims were not Israeli residents.
Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth turned to the Ministry of Religious Services regarding the matter on Monday evening, but the request for clarification was answered with a stern denial; the spokeswoman for the deputy minister insisted the victims would be buried free of charge. It was only a day later that the ministry admitted the State of Israel has demanded payment from the families of the victims.
The ministry released a statement on the issue. "An additional check by officials in the office showed that the families of those murdered in France refused the free options and asked for a ground burial. A field burial in Jerusalem costs some 120,000 shekels. As an exception, the Jewish community (and not the families) will be charged 40,000 shekels per burial plot and 10,000 shekels for each funeral a totaling 200,000 shekels."