Middle East News
Militants deliberately sought out Jewish target (Extra)
Nov 28, 2008, 10:51 GMT
Tel Aviv - Israel said Friday it had no doubt that the militants who attacked Mumbai had deliberately sought out both Jewish and Israeli as well as American and British targets.
By attacking the Chabad House Jewish center in Mumbai as well as the tourist hotels, the attackers had aimed to take both British and American as well as Jewish and Israeli hostages, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
The Jewish target was 'absolutely not an accident because the Chabad House is not located on a central avenue,' he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
'They couldn't have just found it by chance. You only get there if you want to get there. It something of an alley. It's a marginal passage. You don't get there by chance. They knew where they were going.'
Palmor said the Foreign Ministry's working assumption was that 'there could be 10 or even 20 people' still trapped inside the Jewish center of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement.
Most of them were Israelis, including the rabbi and his wife who run the center, two kosher food supervisors and several Israeli visitors. Several non-Israeli, Jewish travelers were also believed to be inside. He stressed however there was no confirmed number.
The fate of the Israelis, including that of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, in their late twenties and the Israeli-born directors of the center, remained unknown.
The couple's nanny who had managed to escape the building with their two-year-old son Thursday said she had found him standing next to them and crying out for her as they were slumped over and lying motionless on the floor. The pair had been supposed to celebrate his second birthday Friday, a Chabad spokesman said.
A former official of Israel's Shin Bet internal security organization, meanwhile, criticized the Indian commandos' handling of the hostage situation.
'In hostage situations, the first thing the forces are supposed to do is assemble at the scene and begin collecting intelligence,' he told the Jerusalem Post.
'In this case, it appears that the forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists instead of first taking control of the area.'
Palmor however denied Israel was dissatisfied with the way the Indians were handling the crisis at the center.
'I'm sure some smart guy somewhere in Israel found this a good opportunity to say that we can do this better, but I can assure that this is not the official position,' he said. 'This is definitely not the feeling in the Foreign Ministry.'
He said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had offered assistance, which he said the Indians had 'politely' turned down. 'The open offer is on the table,' he said.