Israeli leaders condemned Friday’s terror spree in France, during which an assailant claiming loyalty to the Islamic State killed three people, saying that countries need to unite to defeat the terrorists.
“I condemn the brutal terror attack that took place in France. The civilized world must unite and work together in order to defeat terrorism. In the name of the Government of Israel, I send condolences to the families of the murdered and the French people,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
President Reuvin Rivlin also denounced the attack.
“As we head into Shabbat our thoughts are once again with the people of France as they deal with another brutal terror attack. The whole free world must stand united and firm against terror: in Jerusalem, in France, and across the world,” he said.
Three people were killed and two others injured by the attacker, who first went on a shooting spree before taking hostages at a supermarket in southern France.
Security forces killed the gunman — believed to be a Moroccan who was on a watchlist of suspected Islamic extremists — after he carried out three separate attacks in the medieval town of Carcassonne and nearby Trebes.
The man first hijacked a car in Carcassonne, killing a passenger and injuring the driver, before shooting a policeman who was out jogging with his colleagues nearby.
He then drove to a Super U supermarket in the sleepy town of Trebes and holed up there for more than three hours with hostages, killing at least two people, according to sources.
A witness reported that the assailant was armed with knives, a gun and grenades and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) before going into the supermarket.
After letting his hostages go, the gunman remained in the store with just one policeman, who along with another officer was shot and injured when anti-terror forces swooped on the building.
French President Emmanuel Macron said all evidence suggested the hostage-taking and shootings were a terrorist attack.
Speaking in Brussels, where he is attending an EU summit, Macron offered his “full support” to everyone involved in the situation and said he would return to Paris in the coming hours.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb identified the suspect as Redouane Lakdim. The interior ministry described Lakdim as a 26-year-old petty criminal who was considered radicalized and under police surveillance.
The killing spree came with France still on high alert after a string of jihadist attacks since 2015.
The terror attacks in France started in January 2015 with the assault on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. Days later, four Jews were killed in attack on a Kosher supermarket in Paris.
France also suffered major attacks in Paris in November 2015 when IS jihadists killed 130 people in bombings and shootings at bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert venue and the national stadium.
In July 2016, in another attack claimed by IS, a man drove a truck through revellers celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera resort of Nice, killing 84 people.
A state of emergency put in place just after the Paris attacks was finally lifted in October last year, but soldiers continue to patrol major tourist sites and transport hubs under an anti-terror mission.
The attacks were the first deadly assault in France by a suspected jihadist since October, when two young women were stabbed to death outside Marseille’s main train station.
The area of southwest France where Friday’s shootings took place has been traumatised by Islamic extremism before.
In 2012, Mohamed Merah shot dead seven people including three Jewish schoolchildren in nearby Toulouse and Montauban.