Mercaz HaRav massacre
Mercaz HaRav Massacre Location The Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva at Kiryat Moshe, Jerusalem, Israel Coordinates Date March 6, 2008
8:36 pm – 8:56pm (GMT+2)
Attack type Mass murder
Weapon(s) AK-47 Death(s) 8 Israeli civilians (+ 1 attacker) Injured 11 Israeli civilians Perpetrator Lone Palestinian assailant (Alaa Abu Dhein)
The Mercaz HaRav massacre, also called the Mercaz HaRav shooting, was an attack that occurred on 6 March 2008, in which a lone Palestinian gunman shot multiple students at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, a religious school in Jerusalem, Israel, after which the gunman himself was shot dead. Eight students and the perpetrator were killed. Eleven more were wounded, five of them placed in serious to critical condition.
The attack began at 8:36 p.m. local time and ended about twenty minutes later. According to survivor Mijael Mendelson, the attack lasted about 14 minutes. Mendelson reports he saw the time before the shooting started and shortly after knowing the gunman was dead. The attacker was stopped by two Israel Defense Forces officers who were former Mercaz HaRav students themselves: Yitzchak Dadon and Captain David Shapira, who both dealt the fatal blow to the attacker with their personal firearms.[clarification needed]
The massacre was praised by Hamas and, according to a subsequent poll, was supported by 84 percent of the Palestinian population. It was condemned in official statements by various countries around the world.
The attacker, Alaa Abu Dhein, age 26, from the Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber in East Jerusalem, who reportedly had worked as a driver at the yeshiva entered the building carrying a box concealing an AKM along with several magazines, later firing as many as 500-600 rounds. About twenty minutes after he started shooting, the attacker was shot by a part-time student, Yitzhak Dadon, and by Capt. David Shapira, an officer in the Israel Defense Force, and shortly thereafter confirmed dead at the scene. A police patrolman who arrived at the scene before Yitzhak Dadon and David Shapira, remained outside in an effort to "freeze the situation" by preventing civilians from entering instead of making contact and stopping the shooting.
- 8:36pm - First call received by a Magen David Adom operator from a yeshiva student inside the building requesting emergency services
- 8:37pm - First ambulances dispatched
- 8:40pm - The first police car arrives at the scene, does not enter.
- 8:41pm - First paramedic on site reports of one wounded
- 8:42pm - Shapira enters the yeshiva.
- 8:45pm - Two Detectives arrive on the scene
- 8:45pm - Dadon and Shapira exchange fire with the attacker.
- 8:51pm - 'A.R.A.N.' declared (multiple wounded event)
- 8:57pm - MADA operator reports 'end of shooting' and orders paramedics into yeshiva.
Name Age From Studied at Neria Cohen 15 Jerusalem Yashlatz Segev Pniel Avihail 15 Neve Daniel Yashlatz Avraham David Moses 16 Efrat Yashlatz Yehonatan Yitzhak Eldar 16 Shilo Yashlatz Ro'i Roth 18 Elkana Mercaz Harav Yohai Lipshitz 18 Jerusalem Yashlatz Yonadav Chaim Hirshfeld 18 Kokhav HaShahar Mercaz Harav Doron Mahareta 26 Ashdod Mercaz Harav
In addition to those who were shot to death, ten other students were wounded, three seriously.
The gunman responsible, Alaa Abu Dhein, a resident of Jerusalem, was according to his family a driver who had delivered goods to the seminary. This was denied by the head of the yeshiva. Abu Dhein's family said he was an intensely religious Muslim but was not a member of any militant group.
Abu Dhein, like other Arab residents of east Jerusalem who choose not to have Israeli citizenship, carried an Israeli identity card that granted him freedom of movement and travel throughout Israel.[dead link] On January 5, 2009, Israeli High Court of Justice authorized to demolish his family's house, despite appeals by his father not to do so.
Although Abu Dhaim left behind no statement describing his motive, his sister, Iman Abu Dhaim, told The Associated Press that he had been transfixed by the violence in Gaza, where 126 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces from Wednesday through Monday, in response to rocket fire from Palestinian terrorist groups based in Gaza.
According to Ian Black, the attack seemed intended to send the message that Israeli attacks on its enemies, either in Gaza, Lebanon or Syria would not go unanswered. The seminary is identified with the spiritual leadership of the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank, and especially with Gush Emunim. Jerusalem may have been chosen since there were no attacks in the city during 2007.
Claims of responsibility
Hezbollah television network Al-Manar reported that a group calling itself Galilee Liberators Brigades — the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh has claimed responsibility for the attack, raising the possibility that the shooting was in retaliation for the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. Israel had previously denied responsibility for that assassination.
Hamas praised the attack on Thursday but did not claim responsibility for it. On Friday an anonymous phone call to the Reuters news agency took responsibility on Hamas's behalf. However, Fawzi Barhoum, a senior Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that no claim was official unless made in a written statement signed by the military wing of Hamas.
Ehud Olmert, Israel's Prime Minister, called the attack "horrible".[dead link] Olmert also said that the Mercaz Harav yeshiva had produced, "the finest soldiers for many generations; people who have realized the Zionist faith. This yeshiva — which was founded by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook — has educated and nurtured tradition and legacy, as part of Israel's resilience." A spokesman for Olmert said Israel would act after proper investigation and deliberation, and he condemned those, like Hamas, who celebrated the killings with parades in Gaza. "That Hamas calls this a heroic act, and praises it, this exposes them for what they are," the Olmert spokesman said.
Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu blamed Arab Knesset members maintaining that the "attack can not be disconnected from the Arab MKs incitement, which we hear daily in the Knesset." Women in Green called for the establishment of eight new settlements in the West Bank in memory of the eight students killed.
Dalia Itzik of the ruling Kadima party, Speaker of the Knesset and acting president while Shimon Peres is overseas, called for the demolition of the mourning tent for the killer and the demolition of his family's home.
A Channel 1 report that three alumni of the yeshiva were planning a revenge attack against a senior Arab official affiliated with a mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, allegedly with permission from several rabbis, was dismissed by Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and the Shin Bet as baseless following their investigation. National Religious Party's MK Zevulun Orlev said he suspected the allegations were an attempt to "blemish religious Zionism."
Yuli Tamir, Israel's Education Minister, who made a condolence visit to the yeshiva two days after the shooting, was forced to leave after she was kicked in the back twice, spat at, and verbally attacked by dozens of youths outside building, who called her a "murderer" and said that "the Left is to blame for everything." She said: "This reminded me of the days before (former Prime Minister Yitzhak) Rabin's murder. It's unfortunate that there is a public which cannot put limits form [sic] itself. I only came to pay my respect to the murdered, not to engage in politics." The next morning Yuli Tamir threatened to cut of funding for the yeshiva, claiming it did not have "democratic values." The yeshiva told Ehud Olmert that he was not welcome, saying it wanted to "save him and us the embarrassment."
The Israel Football Association called for a minute's silence prior to the weekend's football matches, though it was marred in Sakhnin where some supporters of the Arab team of Bnei Sakhnin booed. Sakhnin spokesman Mundar Haleileh said his club honored the moment of silence, "but we don't have full control over all fans. The association made the decision, and perhaps mixing politics with soccer is a matter to be discussed."
On March 17, hundreds of right-wing activists attacked Arab homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood Jebl Mukaber in an attempt to raze the house of the family of the gunman. For three hours, the activists chanted "revenge, revenge", vandalized property of the Arab village (which the police tried to prevent), and clashed with the police, whom they accused of "guarding the murderers." Many of the protesters were part of the settler movement and carried signs with slogans such as "Expel the Arab Enemy" and "The Land of Israel for the Jewish People" while others shouted "kill the Arabs". Despite a heavy police blockade at the entrance to Jebl Mukaber and a massive deployment of security forces in the area, the marchers managed to enter the village, stone residents' homes and damage a couple of cars belonging to villagers. The police declared the demonstration illegal, and finally forced the protesters to leave.
At an event one month after the attack, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu told some 1,000 attendants that in retribution for the massacre the government should establish a yeshiva or Jewish township for every one of the lives lost that evening. He went on to explain,Even when we seek revenge, it is important to make one thing clear, the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.
However, other National Religious voices were more moderate. In the same one-month commemoration event, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, Rabbi Yaacov Ariel, reminded his audience that,We do not seek revenge, only retaliation… we are against killing innocent people or harming children.
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem released a statement condemning the attack which read: "B'Tselem severely condemns the Palestinian terror attack that took place in a yeshiva (religious school) in Jerusalem, in which 8 Israeli civilians, including 4 minors were killed and many other persons were injured. Attacks aimed at civilians are immoral, inhuman, and illegal."
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, stated "We condemn all attacks against civilians, be they Palestinian or Israeli." However, the Palestinian National Authority daily newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, honored the shooter with the status of "martyr." The paper also prominently placed a picture of the gunman on the front page, with the caption, "The Martyr Alaa Abu Dheim." In a front-page article on the killings, his act is again defined as a "martyrdom-achieving" action.
In a poll taken two weeks later, 84 percent of Palestinians supported the attack on the Mercaz Harav yeshiva. The pollster, Mr. Shikaki was "shocked" and said the result was the single highest support for an act of violence in his 15 years of polling. 
- United Nations: The United Nations Security Council failed to agree on a condemnation of the attack because of opposition from Libya who wished to link the condemnation to a resolution calling for censure of Israel over its assault on the Gaza Strip in the previous week.
- The Organisation of the Islamic Conference condemned the killings, saying it abhorred violence anywhere in the world.
- Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, described the incident as "an unacceptable terrorist attack."
- United States President George W. Bush condemned the attack, and expressed his solidarity with the families of the victims and the people of Israel. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed her condolences on the attack. She also wrote that "The United States condemns tonight's act of terror and depravity." United States Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (IL) phoned Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni while she was visiting the US. Obama expressed his condolences to the Israeli people and to the bereaved families in the wake of the terror attack in the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. He also stressed Israel's right to defend itself and made it clear that both the US and Israel were interested in ensuring that Iran will not be acquiring nuclear weapons. United States Senator Hillary Clinton (D, NY), at the time a leading presidential candidate, said "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families who are suffering the loss and horror of this despicable act of terrorism. The United States and the international community must make clear that such deplorable acts of terrorism will not be tolerated and we must continue to stand with Israel in its fight against terror.”
- Argentina's Foreign Ministry said: "Argentina's Government expresses our deep concern at the escalation of tensions and violence in the region and condemns the attack [...]" "Argentina urges for the cessation of violence... this way will allow the negotiation process for a fair, global and durable peace"
- Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier stated that "Canada condemns this terrorist act in the strongest possible terms. The attack does nothing to advance the Palestinian cause."
- Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang condemned the attack and expressed hope for the lessening of tensions in the Middle East.
- Slovenia, which held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, issued a statement condemning the attack, and stating that "terrorist acts are unacceptable."
- France's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner condemned the attack, and called for peace talks to continue despite the attack.
- Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the attack horrified him, and expressed his sympathy to the families.
- The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the attack, and expressed its profound condolences to the families.
- The Indian Ministry for External Affairs condemned "the mindless terrorist attack" in which "eight young innocent Israeli lives were lost" and called for dialogue to end the "current cycle of violence".
- Ireland's Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern "strongly condemned the terrorist attack" and urged "all parties to end the spiral of violence."
- Masahiko Kōmura, the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that "Japan expresses its condolences to the bereaved families as well as deepest sympathy for the people who were injured. Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason, and any attempt to justify it is unacceptable."
- Jordanian police dismantled a mourning tent erected outside the home of relatives of the shooter.
- Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre condemned the attack and expressed his sympathies to the families.
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the attack, saying that is was "an attempt to strike a blow at the very heart of the peace process." Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband condemned the attack and expressed his hope for a peaceful Middle East.
- List of school-related attacks
- Ma'alot massacre
- Hebrew University massacre
- Avivim school bus massacre
- Jerusalem bulldozer attack
- Jerusalem BMW attack
- Gunman kills 8 in Jerusalem Jewish college - published on Reuters on March 6, 2008
- Gunman Kills 8 in Attack on School in Jerusalem - published on The New York Times on March 6, 2008
- Death Comes for Israel's Seminarians - published on TIME on March 6, 2008
- Terror shooting at Mercaz Harav Kook Yeshiva in Jerusalem - published at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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Prominent terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in the history of the Arab–Israeli conflict – the 2000s 2000Hezbollah cross-border raid (October 7) – Ramallah lynching (October 12) 2001Murder of Ofir Rahum (January 17) – Netanya bombing (March 4) – Murder of Shalhevet Pass (March 26) – Murder of Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran (May 8) – 1st HaSharon Mall entrance suicide bombing (May 18) – Dolphinarium discotheque suicide bombing (June 1) – Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing (August 9) – Nahariya train station suicide bombing (September 9) – Assassination of the Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi (October 17) – Egged bus 823 bombing (November 29) – Ben Yehuda Street Bombings (December 1) – Haifa bus 16 suicide bombing (December 2) – Immanuel bus attack (December 12) 2002Bat Mitzvah massacre (January 18) – Tel Aviv outdoor mall bombing (January 25) – Jaffa Street bombing (January 27) – Karnei Shomron Mall suicide bombing (February 16) – Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre (March 2) – Café Moment bombing (March 9) – Matzuva attack (March 12) – Egged bus 823 bombing (March 20) – King George Street bombing (March 21) – Passover massacre (March 27) ‡ – Kiryat HaYovel supermarket bombing (March 29) – Matza restaurant suicide bombing (March 31) – Yagur Junction bombing (April 10) – Mahane Yehuda Market bombing (April 12) – Rishon LeZion bombing (May 7) – Netanya Market bombing (May 19) – Pi Glilot bombing (May 23) – Megiddo Junction bus bombing (June 5) – Herzliya shawarma restaurant bombing (June 11) – Patt Junction Bus Bombing (June 18) – French Hill Junction massacre (June 19) – Itamar attack (June 20) – Immanuel bus attack (July 16) – Neve Shaanan Street bombing (July 17) – Hebrew University massacre (July 31) – Meron Junction Bus 361 attack (August 4) – Allenby Street bus bombing (September 19) – Karkur junction suicide bombing (October 21) – Sonol gas station bombing (October 27) – Hebron ambush (November 15) – Kiryat Menachem bus bombing (November 21) – Mombasa attacks (November 28) – Beit She'an attack (November 28) 2003Tel-Aviv central bus station massacre (January 5) – Haifa bus 37 suicide bombing (March 5) – Mike's Place suicide bombing (April 30) – Jerusalem bombings (May 18) – Afula mall bombing (May 19) – Davidka Square bus bombing (June 11) – Murder of Oleg Shaichat (July 28) – Shmuel HaNavi bus bombing (August 19) – Tzrifin bus stop attack (September 9) – Café Hillel bombing (September 9) – Maxim restaurant suicide bombing (October 4) – Geha Interchange bus stop bombing (December 25) 2004Erez Crossing bombing (January 14) – Gaza Street bus bombing (January 29) – Liberty Bell Park bus bombing (February 22) – Ashdod Port bombings (March 14) – Murder of Tali Hatuel and her four daughters (May 2) – Tashkent Israeli embassy bombing (July 30) – Beersheba bus bombings (August 31) – Sinai bombings (October 7) – Carmel Market bombing (November 1) 2005Karni border crossing attack (January 13) – Stage Club bombing (February 25) – 2nd HaSharon Mall entrance suicide bombing (July 12) – Shfar'am attack (August 4) – Hadera Market bombing (October 26) – 3rd HaSharon Mall entrance suicide bombing (December 5) 2006 2007Eilat bakery bombing (January 29) – Nahal Telem attack (December 28) 2008 2009Bat Ayin ax attack (April 2) – Killing of Rabbi Meir Hai (December 24)
‡ indicates the terrorist attack which caused the greatest amount of Israeli casualties during the 2000s1990s 2010s
Full list of Palestinian suicide attacks • List of Israeli civilian casualties in the Second Intifada
Full list of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel • Full list of Lebanese rocket attacks on Israel • Rocket attack on Eilat
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