Friday, November 28, 2008

Five hostages at Nariman House killed! "Black Friday" - Indeed!

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(AP)NEW YORK – A New York rabbi and his wife were among the dead in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, slain in a Jewish center that they ran, the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement confirmed Friday.

Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, and his wife, Rivkah, 28, died in the attack on the movement's center in Mumbai, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin said in New York.

The group said the three other victims in the building had apparently been visiting there. Shmotkin identified them as Bentzion Chroman, Leibish Teitlebaum and an Israeli woman whose name was not released.

The Holtzbergs' toddler son, Moshe, was rescued by an employee and taken to his grandparents.

More than 150 people had been killed since gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital, also known as Bombay, starting Wednesday night, officials said.

The U.S. State Department confirmed their deaths.

Members of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement gathered at the group's headquarters Friday to pray for the families of the dead.

"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of 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," he said.

Shmotkin said at least three of the five victims at the center held U.S. citizenship: Teitlebaum was an American from Brooklyn, while the Israeli-born rabbi, who moved to the U.S. as a child, and Chroman both had dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship. Officials here were not sure whether Rivkah Holtzberg, also born in Israel, had obtained dual citizenship.

Twelve hours after gunmen stormed the center Wednesday, Sandra Samuel, a cook at the center, heard little Moshe's cries outside the room in which she had barricaded herself. She opened the door, grabbed the toddler and ran outside with another center worker. The little boy's pants were soaked with blood, and Samuel said she saw four people lying on the floor as she fled.

The Holtzbergs arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to run a synagogue, provide religious instruction and help people dealing with drug addiction and poverty, Kotlarsky said.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky said Moshe will turn 2 on Saturday. "Today, he became an orphan," he said. A second son, who has been ailing, was with relatives in Israel when the attack happened. A third child died earlier this year of a genetic disease, the group said.


When Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife landed in India to run a Jewish outreach center, the couple worked tirelessly, serving homemade kosher meals to their many guests and strengthening their connection with God.

Their outpost was in Mumbai, a dusty and chaotic port city. But the pair never let the tough conditions prevent them from creating a comfortable home for Jews visiting India or from helping the needy.

"They were amazing people," said Hillary Lewin, 24, of New York, who met the Holtzbergs last summer at the center in India. "They had this wisdom, courage and braveness about them. It's a shame. The world needs people like them."

The 29-year-old rabbi and his 28-year-old wife were killed this week after gunmen assailed the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement's center in Mumbai, one in a series of attacks across India's financial capital that left six Americans dead.

The couple's toddler son, Moshe, was rescued by an employee and taken to his grandparents. At least eight people died at the Jewish center.


Israel Reacts to the Mumbai Massacre - Time.Com
By Tim McGirk / Jerusalem Friday, Nov. 28, 2008

Israeli TV channels were on the scene in Mumbai, covering the explosions and the lengthy siege, interspersed with gun battles, that ensued as commandos fought their way from adjacent structures onto the roof of the five-story guesthouse and then into the building itself. It was later confirmed that the Chabad center director, a young New York Rabbi, Gavriel Holtzberg, and his Israeli wife, Rivka, were among the five hostages found dead. Earlier, the couple's two-year-old son, Moshe, was rescued by an Indian maid who fled the building clutching the toddler. There are Chabad Houses around the world. Set up by the Chabad Lubavitchers, a Brooklyn-based movement of Orthodox, Hasidic Jews, the centers provide Jewish travelers with a place to pray in a synagogue, eat kosher meals, celebrate the Sabbath and keep in contact with their families by Internet. India is a favorite destination of Israeli back-packers and was considered fairly safe — until now. (See pictures here of the Mumbai terror.)

Israeli officials are waiting to hear if the Jewish hostages were killed when commandos stormed the building, which is in a crowded Mumbai residential neighborhood, or whether they had been slain earlier by their captors, presumed to be Muslim militants.

Soon after terrorists struck Mumbai on Wednesday, Israeil Defense Minister Ehud Barak offered to send help to India. "The attacks are part of a global wave of terror, which Israel is quite familiar with," Barak said. But India declined the assistance. Some Israeli officials voiced criticism over the way that Indian forces immediately began firing at the gunmen, rather than gathering intelligence on their adversary, or attempting to enter into negotiations with them first. Meanwhile, in India, rumors circulated that the Israelis had indeed been part of the rescue operation, a notion that may have been kick-started by the combination of Israelis staying at the Chabad house and the presence of foreign agents belonging to a security firm that happened to be in the Oberoi (also taken over by the terrorists) to prepare for the visit of an English cricket team.

Israeli officials were cautious about linking the attacks on the Chabad house to al-Qaeda or some of Israel's foes closer to home, such as Palestinian militants, Hamas or the Lebanese militia Hezballah. They say that the terrorists' target was foreigners, not just Israelis, and that the attacks against luxury hotels, restaurants, a hospital, a train station and Chabad house were designed for maximum shock value.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Friday: "Our world is under attack, and it doesn't matter if it's in India or somewhere else. Only when things like this happen do we understand that we are partners in the same battle. This is a reminder to the world. We are the target, and it's not just Israel but the whole Western world. As we understand it, they were looking for guests with American, British, and Israeli citizenship." Several Israeli tourists and businessmen were among those held hostage in the Taj and Oberoi hotels but later managed to escape or were freed.

Israeli officials also remarked that the Mumbai gunmen never demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails or even mentioned the Middle East conflict. Police say the gunmen spoke Urdu, a language of northwestern India and Pakistan, and their focus was on the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir, where Muslim militants are fighting Indian troops for autonomy. Indian media reported that a terrorist inside the Chabad center phoned a local television channel to complain about abuses committed against Muslims in Kashmir by Indian troops, who are mostly Hindus.

"Ask the government to talk to us, and we will release the hostages," said the man, identified by the India TV channel as Imran. "Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?"


(AP) MUMBAI, India – Commandos who stormed the Mumbai headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group found the bodies of five hostages inside, an Israeli emergency medical crew said, as a fresh battle raged at the luxury Taj Mahal hotel and other Indian forces ended a siege at another five-star hotel.

More than 150 people have been killed since gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital starting Wednesday night, including 22 foreigners — two of them Americans, officials said.

Early Friday night, Indian commandos emerged from a besieged Jewish center with rifles raised in an apparent sign of victory after a daylong siege that saw a team rappel from helicopters and a series of explosions and fire rock the building and blow gaping holes in the wall.

Inside, though, were five dead hostages.

A delegation from Israel's ZAKA emergency medical services unit entered the building after the raid and reported through an Indian aide that five hostages and two gunmen were dead, a ZAKA spokesman in Israel said. The spokesman had no information on the hostages' identities or whether there were wounded inside.

Jewish law requires the burial of a dead person's entire body, and the mission of the ultra-Orthodox ZAKA volunteers is to rescue the living — and in the case of the dead, carry out the task of gathering up all collectable pieces of flesh and blood.

Moshe Holtzberg, the 2-year-old who was smuggled out of the center by an employee, is now with his grandparents. His grandfather told Israel Radio on Friday that he had no news of Moshe's parents.


NSG commandos have come out of the Nariman House amid cheering crowds where five hostages and two terrorists have been found dead inside the building.

Thousands of people have gathered outside the building. The Rapid Action Force is using lathis to control the crowd.

According to the announcement at the Nariman House, the operation is not yet over. An NSG Major and a commando have been killed in the operation. The NSG is combing Nariman House to ensure no more terrorists are inside.

Earlier, seven hostages were taken out from the building.


Mumbai: 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.

"We had taken over the second floor of the house when grenade was launched from above. Three hostages were killed by terrorists before they moved upstairs. NSG commandos moved upstairs to kill two terrorists on the fourth floor. Terrorists killed two hostages in this floor," NSG Director General Jyoti Krishan Dutt said.

"Nariman House charge will be given to CRPF and Mumabi Police after the operation is over," Dutt said. "We are on the last floor and any time we will finish this operation," he said.

The fate of terrorists is still unclear.

The Jewish centre had earlier been badly damaged after a strong explosion took place at the third floor of the building.

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At least six Israelis still held hostage in Mumbai

Portions of the Jewish centre have been damaged after rocket-propelled grenades were launched as part of terrorist flush-out operation.

National Security Guard commandos had stormed the building where at least four people were believed to have been taken hostage by a group of heavily armed terrorists.

There was heavy exchange of fire at Nariman House and terrorists also lobbed grenades on the commando team.

NSG commandos entered the building early on Friday morning after rappelling from a helicopter onto the roof of the Jewish centre.

Meanwhile, the death toll has risen to 155 while 327 others have been injured in the terror attacks that began on Wednesday night. The dead include eight foreigners.