Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent Thursday night in a Situation Center at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs swallowing coffee and listening to briefings by Director-General Yuval Rotem and the Israeli Embassy staff in Barcelona after a terrorist ramming attack left 13 people dead and more than 100 others injured.
“Israel strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Barcelona,” Netanyahu said in a statement late Thursday night. “On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I send condolences to the families of those who were killed and wishes for a quick recovery to the injured. This evening we again saw that terror strikes everywhere; the civilized world must fight it together in order to defeat it.”
This photo from Barcelona appears to show the aftermath of today's incident; the kosher restaurant, Maccabi, is visible on the right. pic.twitter.com/yWlOZA8gTU
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) August 17, 2017
Barcelona Chief Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen, told Israel’s Channel 2 television news in a telephone interview on Thursday night that police told him the terror attack was not directed at Jews. He added that he was canceling community activities and going to the attack scene to see if his help was needed.
Contary to police reassurances, however, Jewish Agency spokesperson Avi Mayer tweeted a discovery he made on Facebook showing that one of the Barcelona attackers – Driss Oukabir, whose photo was released by Spanish National Police – had posted an anti-Semitic video on the social networking site alleging a global Jewish conspiracy to seize control over the world.
The video is titled, “What is Zionism? A Brief Introduction” and the post contains links to what seems to be a neo-Nazi YouTube page, Mayer wrote. However, the YouTube video is “not available” for viewing by internet users in Israel.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) August 17, 2017
It’s not yet clear who else was involved in masterminding the attack, although the Islamic State terrorist organization took credit for the ramming, saying it was carried out by soldiers of the Islamic State “in response to calls for targeting coalition states.” That, however, is not the same as saying the men were trained by ISIS, or taking outright responsibility for the attack: a fine point, but an important one.
At least two suspects were arrested and a third man died, either by his own hand or shot during a shootout with police when he tried to ram a police vehicle at a roadblock set up about three kilometers from the site of the first attack.
Statements of support and solidarity poured in Thursday night from around the Jewish world, and especially from around Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely tweeted, “I condemn this deplorable act of terror and senseless death and stand with #Spain with prayers for the fast recovery of the victims.”
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted solidarity in Spanish from the State of Israel to the people of Barcelona as well.
Solidaridad con #Barcelona, en estos momentos de terror y violencia .
— Emmanuel Nahshon (@EmmanuelNahshon) August 17, 2017
A statement in English followed: “Saddened & shocked by terrible scenes from #Barcelona. Israel stands by ppl of Barcelona at this difficult time. Terror will never prevail,” the Foreign Ministry tweeted.
Likewise, Tel Aviv’s city hall tweeted its support, and flashed the colors of the Spanish flag Thursday night from the building.
— (((WJC))) (@WorldJewishCong) August 17, 2017
The World Jewish Congress wrote in a tweet, “#Barcelona, you are not alone. Terror won’t bring us down. May you find comfort from the pain and horror you are experiencing today.”
Overlaid upon a lovely photo of Barcelona were the words, “Terror will not prevail #Barcelona.” A prior tweet read, “A city of beauty turned into a city of pain. We stand in solidarity with the victims of the #Barcelona terrorist attack & their families.”
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife both separately tweeted their support. The president posted a formal condemnation, adding the U.S. would do “whatever is necessary to help. Be tought & strong, we love you!” he wrote.
Statements of support were posted from leaders around Europe as well, including the head of the European Parliament, Germany, France and the UK.