Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday condemned the terror attack in the Normandy region of France, in which a priest was murdered and another wounded after both were taken hostage during a morning Mass service.
“This attack shows the true face of the brutal nature and horror of terrorism. This is an attack by radical extremists, terrorists, who have struck at the very symbol of peace and murdered in cold blood in a house of God, while they pretend to speak in His name,” Rivlin said.
Two men claiming to be Islamic State “soldiers” took five people hostage at the Catholic church in the northern French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
The terrorists slit the throat of one Catholic priest, 86-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel, and seriously wounded another hostage. Two nuns and two congregants were among the hostages. French police shot dead the two terrorists as the men left the church.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi called the attack a “barbarous killing” and said they are “particularly shocked because this horrible violence took place in a church, in which God’s love is announced.”
France is still on high alert following a deadly attack in Nice two weeks ago when a man ran a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day. He killed 84 people and injured more than 300.
“The whole free world must understand that our values are under attack. We must fight to defend them, lest we be overtaken by waves of intolerance and hatred,” Rivlin said.
“Israel stands side by side with the people of France, and we send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families,” he said.