Powered by WebAds

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hostage situation at Chabad House - UPDATED

The Jerusalem Post reports Thursday morning that one of the buildings that was attacked by terrorists on Wednesday night in Mumbai (Bombay) is the local Chabad House.
On Thursday morning, the kidnappers apparently released the couple's young boy and his nanny, who said that the rabbi and his wife were alive but unconscious. Indian television showed footage of the young boy leaving the building with the nanny. The rabbi's mother confirmed to Army Radio that her one-year-old grandson had been released.

"Pray that we should hear good news," urged a Chabad spokesman, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, in a telephone conversation with The Jerusalem Post from New York in the early hours of Thursday morning, Israel time.

Joshua Runyan, the news editor of the Chabad.org/news website, told the Post that there had been "several reports that shots were fired in the vicinity of the Chabad House, and unconfirmed reports on CNN of casualties in the Nariman House." Nariman House, Runyan said, was the original name of the Chabad House, which was purchased two years ago.

Runyan, who is in Jerusalem, said that a friend of the rabbi's had received an email from Holtzberg, unrelated to the attacks, at around the time of the attacks or shortly before they began, but that there had been no contact with Holtzberg since. "Since then, we've been trying all the numbers," he said.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem confirmed the possibility that hostages had been taken in the Chabad House area, Israel Radio reported. By 6 a.m., the ministry had yet to make contact with 20 Israelis in India.

Indian news agencies reported that three people were killed in or close to the Chabad House. The dead were unlikely to be Jewish, said reports.

Phone calls by the Post to the Chabad House and to the Holtzbergs went unanswered late Wednesday night and in the small hours of Thursday morning.

Friends of the Holtzbergs placed messages on various internet sites appealing for information about them.

The Foreign Ministry repeated at 2 am that it had no reports of Israeli casualties in the attacks. Runyan said that the Israeli consulate in Mumbai also had no reports of Israeli casualties.

Israel Radio reported that staff from the Consulate were visiting local hospitals. Runyan said the Chabad House was a popular tourist destination and that "Israelis regularly come by and visit."
Yeshiva World News has been live-blogging the situation. Here are their latest updates.
UPDATE 2:38AM EST / 9:38AM IL: The following report is from Israel Foreign Ministry official Yossi Levy, who is monitoring events in Mumbai from the situation room. Levy explains they remain in contact with consular officials in India via satellite technology.

At present, no names of Israelis ar among the wounded in hospitals. There are still an unspecified number of Israelis listed as missing. Efforts to establish communications with them have failed but efforts are ongoing.

Regarding the Chabad House, the situation remains unclear despite reports, some of which are conflicting. As such, the Foreign Ministry is unable to give confirmed information but states it appears the wife and a child have escaped and the rabbi is still alive. This report however is not being confirmed by official sources but it is being stressed that both Rav Holtzberg and his rebbitzin appear to be alive Baruch Hashem.

Binyamin Avraham, the rav of El Al, is currently in the Bombay Airport. He told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) a few moments ago the airport is open and he hopes that a flight with many Israeli nationals will be able to depart on schedule.

Mumbai media reports the NSG is operating in the Chabad House, apparently to neutralize the situation there where a number of terrorists are believed to still be at large. In addition, the marine commando chief reports 40-45 hostages remain in the Taj Hotel.

UPDATE 2:47AM EST / 9:47AM IL: There are reports from the scene that there are exchanges of gunfire at the Chabad (Nariman) House. There are no reports of what is taking place but a short time ago; authorities have begun evacuating residents living in nearby homes. Mumbai media reports NSG forces are moving floor-by-floor, searching each room in the Taj Hotel, calling it a “somewhat complicated situation”. CNN quoted NSG officials reports “everything is under control”. About 25 hostages are believed to still be in the Oberoi Hotel.In the meantime, Gaza-based terrorists seem to feel the tension in Israel surrounding the hostages in the Chabad House and missing Israelis in Mumbai is a good background to step-up attacks. In the past hour, there have been at least three waves of Kassam rockets in the western Negev and Sderot areas. Baruch Hashem, there are no reports of injuries.

UPDATE 3:00AM EST / 10:00AM IL: Commando forces are working to secure the situation at the Chabad House in Mumbai, with Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) stating it appears there are still 5-6 people inside.

Sharoni, an Israeli who lives near the Chabad House, reports the police got the rebbitzin and a toddler out of the area safely.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy reports from the situation room, that currently, there are no reports of Israelis among the wounded.

The El Al plane in Bombay Airport is scheduled to return home this evening. A flight from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport to India has been canceled.

British High Commissioner Sir Richard Stagg reports a center has been established, checking for British citizens in hospitals, reporting seven injured. He reports that the head of the British counter-terrorism office will be coming to Delhi on Monday as the two countries maintain a “close relationship”.

Security forces are still operating in the Taj Hotel, moving from room to room in an effort to secure the area. There are still reports of some 25 hostages in the Oberoi Hotel. Officials report “it is going to be a very very long day, adding the police operation may take a while”. As the report comes in, there are new reports of renewed gunfire at the Oberoi. Reporters at the scene state the situation “is a very complicated matter and extra paramilitary troops are being brought in towards executing the ongoing strategy.”

Officials are confirming there are hundreds of residents inside the Oberoi along with a small number of foreigners, plus the hostages.

Keep checking back for more details.


JPost is reporting that eight Israelis - including Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife - are being held hostage at Chabad house and several other Israelis are being held hostage elsewhere in Mumbai.
Chabad spokesman in Israel, Moni Ender, said there were eight Israelis inside the house, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holtzberg.

Several other Israelis were reportedly being held at the Oberoi Hotel, Israel Radio reported.

Newscasters were calling it the "final assault" on the Nariman House, where Chabad headquarters are located, adjacent to the Leopold Cafe, a major tourist center in Mumbai's Colaba area, which was also attacked Wednesday night.

According to a report by Reuters, the terrorists have expressed their desire to negotiate with the Indian government for the release of the hostages. The government, however, has repeatedly stated that it will not negotiate.


On Thursday morning, Moshe Holtzberg, the toddler son of the Chabad emissaries, was rushed from the house in the arms of one of the Chabad House's employees, Sandra Samuel.

"I took the child, I just grabbed the baby and ran out," said Samuel, 44, who has worked as a cook for the center for the last five years.

She said that the rabbi and his wife, along with two other unidentified guests, were alive but unconscious.

"Pray that we should hear good news," urged a Chabad spokesman, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, in a telephone conversation with The Jerusalem Post from New York in the early hours of Thursday morning, Israel time.

Shmotkin also said that the had gunmen seized a police vehicle, which allowed them access to the area around the Chabad House.


"People are urged to say Psalms for Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma and Rivka bas Yehudis [the Rabbi and his wife. CiJ], and anyone affected by the tragedy."
Two quick comments. First, it's not surprising that Israelis are being held hostage. India is full of Israelis including traveling students and business people. Mrs. Carl's biggest client - who shall remain nameless - regularly sends employees to India on business.

Second, note that the Indians are refusing to negotiate. There's a lesson there for the Israeli government. This will be over much more quickly and at much less cost in human lives than the Gilad Shalit or the Goldwasser-Regev situations.


At 8:57 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Indians are doing what the IDF used to do: kill terrorists on sight. Quite a contrast to Israel's humiliating surrender to Hezbollah earlier this year. If there's a lesson in all this, its that terrorism is NOT based in "root causes" or similar babble. It is evil. Those who single out Americans and Jews for slaughter should be wiped off the face of the earth. G-d is using this to send Israel a message: clean up your act. Its about time!


Post a Comment

<< Home