Saturday, November 29, 2008

Terrorists In Mumbai Target Chabad House (Update: 5 hostages killed--are Identified)

This post will remain at the top for the time being. Please scroll down for newer posts.(Also, on the left side of the blog you can check out Twitter updates about Nariman House.)

Friday, 11:02AM

The commando raid was still going on late Friday, with the bodies of five Jewish hostages having been recovered from the facility, including those of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, quoted diplomat Haim Choshen telling Israel's Channel 2.

"Apparently the hostages did not remain alive," officials of the Israeli rescue organization Zaka said in a statement without identifying the hostages or saying how many may have died.

[Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon]

Keith Bradsher of NYT was giving live updates of the situation at the Chabad House. He has now moved from the area, but you can read his updates from there up to 7:55am this morning. (Posts are in London time--subtract 5 hours.

Five hostages have been killed by terrorists holed up inside Nariman House, a Jewish centre, in Colaba (Mumbai) even as National Security Guard commandos have secured major parts of the building.
It is not clear who those 5 hostages were.

Note: In addition to Life of Rubin, Israellycool and The Yeshiva World are also updating the story.

The Financial Times reports:
For thousands of Jewish travellers visiting Mumbai each year – ranging from Orthodox business people to young Israeli backpackers – the five-year old Chabad House was an important port of call, offering services that ranged from Kosher meals to holiday services to the sympathetic ear of a young rabbi.

But on Wednesday night, the Chabad House was one of the carefully-selected targets of the devastating terror attacks that rocked Mumbai. An Israeli rabbi connected to Chabad House was among at least three people being held hostage by gunmen. According to Reuters a woman and a child were released and one of the gunmen was killed. However, at least four armed men remained in the building by mid afternoon on Thursday Mumbai time.

The choice of the Chabad House as a target, heightening suspicions about the attackers’ potential international links, or influences.

India’s own radical Muslims have traditionally focused their wrath on the dominant Hindu population and has never previously targetted India’s tiny and diminishing indigenous Jewish community, which number just a few thousand.

The founders of the Chabad centre, Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg, a young Israeli who also holds US citizenship, and his wife Rifka, were part of the Chabad Lubovitch movement, which is dedicated to deepening religious practice and observation among Jews – both faithful and secular. [emphasis added]

I highlighted the names of Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rifka because they have been taken hostage by the terrorists. I received the following email from the Rabbi of the Chabad in Cyprus:

Dear friends,

As you are all aware of from the news, yesterday morning there was a huge scale terrorist attack in Mumbai India.

The terrorists have been holding hostages in three locations. The targets were 2 Hotels and the Niramar house which is the “CHABAD HOUSE” in Bombay that serves business people who come to India and all the Israeli backpackers.

At the current moment Rabbi Gabriel (who was my classmate in the school) and his wife Rivky are being held hostage. According to the housekeeper who was released from the building last night holding their two year old child in her hands both were not conscious but alive.

Please take a moment today to give charity, do a good deed and recite a prayer and psalms for the safe release of Gavriel Noach ben Fridah Bluma, his wife Rivkah bat Yehudit and all hostages whose names we don’t know.

Rabbi Arie Zeev and Sheindel Raskin

Life of Rubin has been following the story closely and has some updates on the situation vis-a-vis the Chabad House there and Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife.

UPDATE: According to Reuters:

The Israeli rescue service Zaka also said that Rabbi Gabriel Hertzberg's wife, whose name they gave as Rivka, had been released along with his two-year-old child.

Apparently she and her son are "woman and a child" referred to in the Financial Times article above.

It now appears that the woman who came out with the boy was the nanny, not the mother.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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