President Shimon Peres paid a visit to the homes of the Sandler and Monsonego families on Friday to offer his condolences over the death of their loved ones in last week's terror attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
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Yaakov Monsonego is the principal at the Ozar HaTorah school in Toulouse. His eight-year-old daughter Miriam was one of the victims. During Peres' visit, he recounted the deadly terror attack: "Jonathan Sandler and his two sons were waiting with Miriam outside the school. I was already in the synagogue located on school grounds when I suddenly heard screaming. I didn’t hear gunfire, just people screaming 'we are being shot at.'
Peres (R) with the Sandlers (Photo: Yossef Avi Yair Angel)
"Then the assailant (Mohammed Merah) escaped and we understood the enormity of the horror. The great miracle was that a van blocked the progress of the scooter the (terrorist) was riding on. He planned on entering the synagogue, where dozens of children were waiting – thus, a massacre was avoided," the grieving father recalled.
Yaakov Monsonego said his daughter "gave our family the strength to continue our educational mission in France, given that her four brothers were far away in Israel."
Towards the end of his visit, Peres told Miriam's mother Yaffa, "Your daughter was wonderful and beautiful. The daughter you have lost cannot be replaced. I am convinced that you will find the strength and faith to get through this."
The president told Eva Sandler, who lost her husband and two sons in the Toulouse terror attack on Monday, "Above all, you are the mother of a daughter and left with the difficult and most important task which requires you to be strong for your daughter and take care of her future. I am impressed that you are a strong woman and confident that you'll be stronger for her. I came here today to give you the love of the people and wish that you should know no more sorrow."
Peres told Jonathan Sandler's father Shlomo that "the madness and cruelty of the murder of an educator and his three children at point blank range is difficult to comprehend. The State of Israel will remember Jonathan as an educator who was murdered along with his children while on a mission of great importance."
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