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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eight Israelis confirmed dead in Mumbai - UPDATED

Israel's foreign ministry has confirmed the deaths of eight Israelis in Mumbai. Among them are Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg HY"D (may God avenge their blood), the director of the Chabad House in Mumbai and his wife (pictured at the top of this post). More here and here and more from me later.


Watch closely as there may be as many as ten dead Israelis. Here's more from Arutz Sheva:
After more than 40 hours and a day-long siege by Indian commandos against Islamist terrorists holed up in the Mumbai Chabad House, the operation ended with the discovery that eight of the Jewish hostages had been murdered by their captors, including Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

Foreign Ministry sources told Israel National News just minutes before the start of the Sabbath in Israel that the victims also included two women who had been trapped on the top floor with the Holtzbergs. On Saturday night, the names of Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum of Jerusalem, son of the Volover Rebbe of Boro Park and son-in-law of the head of the Toldos Avraham Yitzhak Chassidic sect, and his co-worker Ben Tzion Korman of Bat Yam, were added to the list of victims.

One of the two women who was killed, a Mexican national, had not yet been identified for publication, pending notification of next-of-kin. The other victim was identified as Yocheved Or-Paz, an Israeli woman in her sixties. The identities of two other Israeli victims were also being withheld pending notification to their families, which had been impossible due to the Sabbath.

The Chabad House was one of 10 sites that were struck by some 25 terrorists who apparently infiltrated into Mumbai by sea and then fanned out through the city. By Saturday, nine of out 10 of the targets were finally free of terrorists, hostages and most of the victims; however, some 60 hours after the mass-casualty attack began, the city's largest and most luxurious hotel, the Taj Mahal, was still not clear, and operations by Indian National Security Guards (NSG) continued into the night.


The Foreign Ministry confirmed minutes before Sabbath began in Israel that two Israeli hostages had been freed, after spending more than 30 hours holed up in the Oberoi-Trident Hotel. The two businessmen, who were identified only by their last names, Weingarten and Zamir, were rescued Friday morning at approximately 7:30 a.m. Israel time.

According to Ministry spokesman Andy David, neither was injured and both were in good condition following their harrowing ordeal. "I can confirm that they're out, they're free... they made contact with our Consulate, our people saw them and they're okay," he told Israel National News, adding that both planned to return to Israel but that a timeline had not been set.


By 6:00 p.m Saturday night, it was still not clear whether all missing Israelis in Mumbai had been accounted for.

Indian army sources claimed that the terrorists had received commando training from the Pakistan Army and had been provided with boats and logistical support by the Mumbai underworld, according to India's IBN Live television news.
JPost adds that there may be more dead Israelis:
An unspecified number of Israelis in Mumbai remain unaccounted for, an official from the Israeli Consulate in the terror-stricken Indian city told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.

Speaking by phone from the Consulate just after the end of Shabbat in Mumbai, Haim Hoshen, the Foreign Ministry's Head of the Asia and South Asia Department, said he preferred not to discuss the exact number of missing Israelis.

"We have a list from Israel of names of people who still haven't made contact with their families. I'd prefer not to discuss the exact number at this stage," Hoshen said. "What is certain is that the whereabouts of some of these people remain unknown."

Hoshen spoke hours after the Foreign Ministry confirmed that eight bodies were recovered from Mumbai's Chabad House, following an Indian helicopter rooftop commando raid which lasted for several hours.

Authorities announced the name of a fourth Israeli victim, 60-year-old Yohevet Orpaz, after her family identified her body on Saturday afternoon, Israel Radio reported.

Orpaz was killed along with another eight people at the Chabad House. The Foreign Ministry said that seven of the nine bodies found in the building have been identified as Israelis. According to Israel's ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, three Israelis had yet to be identified.

According to the report, local police were preventing people from entering the Chabad building, citing fears that the structure could collapse after the immense damage it sustained while under siege over the last three days.

The deceased included Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who ran the Chabad House. They ran the movement's local headquarters, which was one of 10 sites attacked.

A Chabad-Lubavitch spokesman, Rabbi Zalman Schmotkin, identified two other victims as Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual US citizenship, and Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum, an American from Brooklyn. At least one of the remaining two victims in the Chabad House is a woman and both are Israelis.

Indian commandos were still combing the floors of Nariman House for other casualties.

Hoshen said six members of Israel's Burial Society (ZAKA) had arrived to help identify the bodies. "We are continuing to deal with all of the sorrowful events here," he said. "We will soon go and meet a victim's family in order to officially inform them of the death of their loved ones." Hoshen refrained from indicating how many bodies had been identified by Saturday evening.

The Consulate was also working closely with Indian authorities to ensure a swift transfer of the bodies to Israel for burial, Hoshen said.
Orthodox Jews who travel know that there are two things we can count on in nearly any city in the world: Chabad and Coca Cola. While I have never been to Mumbai or to India, I have been the guest of the Chabad shaliach (literally messenger, but de facto a director) in other cities. The events that took place this week in Mumbai may affect how Chabad operates in India and in other countries around the world: Apparently, the Chabad center was a target and not just a place where the terrorists happened to show up.
Hoshen said there was no doubt that the Chabad House was the target of a premeditated and planned assault, adding that security had been stepped up around the Consulate. "We are very aware [of the heightened danger]. As you can imagine, all of the necessary preparations have been made," he said.

Chabad activists who had arrived in Mumbai and who held a Shabbat meal for the remaining Jews in the city, including the parents of Rivka Holtzberg, Rabbi Shimon Rozenberg and his wife Yehudit, have been advised by Indian police not to disclose their movements.

In an interview for the Chabad Website held minutes before the entrance of Shabbat in Mumbai, Chabad Rabbi Dov-Be'er Goldberg said he was hosting the Rozenbergs and two Israeli nationals who had survived a hostage ordeal at the Oberoi Trident hotel.

"We have received instructions from the Indian police and Embassy staff not to discuss our location, since the Chabad House is now a terror target," Goldberg said.
I don't believe there are Chabad houses in most Arab countries, but the very nature of Chabad in other countries is to make their location known so that Jews can find them.

Here's part of what Chabad had to say about the Holtzberg's HY"D.
"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch. "As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists. Their Chabad House was popular among the local community, as well as with visiting businesspeople.

"For five years, they ran a synagogue and Torah classes, and helped people dealing with drug addiction and poverty," continued the statement. "Their selfless love will live on with all the people they touched. We will continue the work they started."

The Holtzbergs arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to serve the small local Jewish community, visiting businesspeople and the throngs of tourists, many of them Israeli, who annually travel to the seaside city.

Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, was born in Israel and moved to the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., with his parents, when he was nine. A prodigious student, Holtzberg was a two-time champion in a competition of memorizing the Mishnah, a compendium of rabbinical laws and enactments redacted in the second century C.E.

He studied at yeshivas in New York and Argentina, and as a rabbinical student served communities in Thailand and China under the Summer Rabbinical Visitation Program run by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.

His 28-year-old wife, born Rivka Rosenberg, is a native of Afula, Israel. Chayki Rosenberg described her sister as dedicated to helping Jews.

She “gives lots of classes for women at the Chabad House,” Rosenberg told The Jerusalem Post.

Friends described her as always having a positive outlook and a kind word for everyone.

Two years ago, the Holtzbergs raised funds to purchase the current location of the Chabad House, a five-story building in Mumbai’s Colaba market area known as Narimon House. A trained ritual circumciser and slaughterer, the rabbi also conducted weddings for local Jewish couples in addition to teaching Torah classes and visiting with tourists.

His last known phone call was to the Israeli Consulate to report that gunmen were in his house. In the middle of the conversation, the line went dead.
India - as well as Thailand and other countries in the Far East - is full of Israelis who go there on post-army trips to get lost in the decadence. India is a country whose politics have a lot in common with Israel. And now they have something else in common with us too.

In the last week I heard two stories of American and Israeli jobs being transferred to India. Last Saturday night, we visited with friends who told us that the wife had to lay off more than 20 people from a large American insurance company in New York because the company had decided to transfer their work to India. And this week in synagogue, a friend told me that his brother had lost his programming job, because the company had been bought by Americans and it was cheaper to base it in India rather than in Israel. I wonder if anyone will have second thoughts.


At 9:33 PM, Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

the dead terrorists bodies should be stitched into pig skins and dumped into the river to be eaten by the crocs...

It's time to fight BACK...


Under no circumstances should they be given BACK to Pakistan...

At 3:12 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

They were two beautiful people who were an inspiration to all those around them. I can't imagine who would have harmed them. As we saw in the past few days, goodness sometimes attracts evil. The terrorists tore out the leaves, which is what Gabriel and Rivka, represented in Mumbai. But they will never destroy the living root of the Jewish people anywhere.


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