The prime minister condemned on Sunday the anti-Semitic attack in a California synagogue, which left a 60-year-old woman dead and three others wounded, calling it “a blow to the Jewish nation’s heart," while Israeli president said the attack is a reminder hatred that of Jews is alive and well all around the world.
On Saturday, a 19-year-old gunman opened fire inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday, killing the 60-year-old Lori Kaye. The synagogue's founding rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, was wounded in the attack and lost two of his index fingers. Two other people - 8-year-old Noya Dahan and 34-year-old Almog Peretz - were also hurt.
“We send our condolences to Lori Gilbert Kaye’s family and wish a speedy recovery to those left wounded,” Netanyahu said. “The international community must step up its fight against anti-Semitism."
The Prime Minister's Office said in light of the upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks around the world, Prime Minister Netanyahu will convene a special meeting with the officials tasked with fighting anti-Jewish prejudices on the international arena.
President Reuven Rivlin said the attack is “a painful reminder that anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews is still with us, everywhere."
"We were shocked and grieved to hear of the shooting at Chabad of Poway, California … during Pesach, our holiday of freedom, and just before Holocaust Memorial day," the president said. "No country and no society are immune (to anti-Semitism). Only through education for Holocaust remembrance and tolerance can we deal with this plague."
“Our hearts are with the Gilbert Kaye family, who have lost their dear Lori, with the families of the wounded and with the whole community. We are with you in these difficult times,” he said. “The Jewish people will never allow anti-Semitism and hatred to triumph. We are strong and we are proud of our heritage and our identity of love for each other and our fellow humans,” he added.
Witnesses said Kaye jumped in front of Rabbi Goldstein, who after being wounded still tried to stop the shooter and tend to other victims.
Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett called Kaye “a hero, who will be remembered in Jewish history," he said. "She sacrificed her own life, throwing herself in the path of the murderer's bullets to save the life of the rabbi."
The condition of two other wounded was described by the medical staff as “good.” Peretz, an Israeli citizen, was wounded as he ushered the children to a nearby playroom.
A fellow Israeli, Shimon Abutbul from Kiryat Shmona, was in the synagogue at the time of the shooting. 'We were in the middle of a prayer when I went outside because my grandchildren ran to the playroom, that’s when we heard a shot being fired,” he said. “Just one shot initially and then three in a row. We laid down quickly on the ground.
"Later on, I went to see whether someone had been hurt. I saw the rabbi’s hands were badly hurt, and a woman was also shot. We tried to perform CPR on her, but unfortunately it didn't help,” he added.
President Donald Trump and other elected US officials decried what they called an anti-Semitic attack exactly six months since 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest assault on Jews in US history.
The gunman, identified as John Earnest, posted an anti-Semitic manifesto on social media shortly before the attack. The poster described himself as a nursing school student and praised the suspects accused of carrying out deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand last month and at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue October 27.