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In Israel, tears and defiance at French shooting victims' burial

Paul Goldman / NBC News

Mourners at the Jerusalem funeral for the four Jews killed by a gunman in Toulouse, France on Wednesday.

JERUSALEM – The Har Menuchot Cemetery looked like it was painted in black Wednesday. Hundreds of mourners, many of them men dressed in the black suits and broad-brimmed hats worn by orthodox Jews, came to pay their respects for the four Jews killed by a gunman in Toulouse, France, on Monday.

The bodies of 30-year-old Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons, Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 4, and 8-year-old Myriam Monsenego were laid on stretchers after being flown to Israel from France.

Small white cards were placed on each body indicating their names.


The announcer asked dignitaries to limit their speeches to five minutes due to the heat and out of respect for the bereaved families.    

In tears, Shlomo Amar, the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel, was defiant. "We will keep on fighting and teaching our youth with our heads high up,” he said. “Our enemy will not defeat us.”

Paul Goldman / NBC News

Mourners at the Jerusalem funeral for the four Jews killed by a gunman in Toulouse, France on Wednesday.

A woman started shouting and other weeping women soon followed. Someone brought a large cotton cloth to cover the victims’ families from the sun.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe sat still with a somber face throughout the speeches; eventually, he spoke in French, which was translated into Hebrew. "The French nation is in shock,” he said. “I came here today to show the French nation's respect. We will do our out most to protect the Jewish community in France. We will not tolerate terror."

Monsenego's grandfather was asked to say a few words, but he couldn’t find the strength to stand up and talk.

Photo Blog: Jerusalem funeral for victims of French school shooting 

But Myriam's eldest brother, Avishai, offered some words. He wailed and had one last plea for his dead sister” "Please give strength to father and mother to overcome this tragedy.”

Then the slain rabbi’s father, Shmuel Sandler, spoke about his son, "You were a magnificent person killed by a barbaric person," he said. Unfortunately, the middle of his speech was interrupted by police using a megaphone asking the owner of a Daihatsu car to move the vehicle because it was blocking the road.

Paul Goldman / NBC News

The caskets for the four Jews killed by a gunman in Toulouse, France at their funeral in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

While the bodies were taken to be buried, I spoke to David Naor, a relative of the Sandler familyr. I asked him about the news coming out of Toulouse that the suspected gunman had been found.

“Finding the killer won’t help the dead children,” he replied. “But it helps to know that he won’t kill again.”