Jewish victims of Paris attacks buried in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (REUTERS) - Four French Jews killed in the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris were buried in Jerusalem on Tuesday before thousands of French and Israeli mourners, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying they had been returned to their "true home".

In an emotional ceremony at a hillside cemetery amid tight security, Mr Netanyahu denounced the "terrorism of extremist Islam" behind Friday's assault on the grocery and the deadly shootings on Wednesday at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo weekly.

Mr Netanyahu, who joined world leaders for a rally of over a million people in Paris on Sunday, said Jews around the world were always welcome to migrate to Israel.

"Our President was right in saying that Jews have the right to live in many countries," Mr Netanyahu said, delivering his homily in Hebrew after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had spoken.

"Today, more than ever, Israel is the true home of all of us, and the greater our number and the more united we are in our land, the stronger we will be in our one and only country - and that is the hope of the entire Jewish people," he said.


Despite many of the mourners having travelled from France and not speaking Hebrew, none of the Israeli politicians who delivered addresses at the ceremony used any French.

Friends of Yohan Cohen, 20, who was shot dead by hostage-taker Amedy Coulibaly, said he would have wanted to be buried in Israel even if he always regarded France as his home.

"We know that there's a day when we must ultimately come to Israel," said Michael Sitruk, 19, who like several others wore a white T-shirt bearing Cohen's picture.

Asked if he had any plans to move to Israel, he said it felt inevitable, given a steady increase in anti-Semitic attacks.

"It's hard. I was born in France, grew up in France, have my life and family in France."

Mr Netanyahu's decision to attend the funeral for Cohen, Yoav Hattab, 22, Philippe Braham, 45, and Francois-Michel Saada, 64, was rare, lending a political atmosphere to the ceremony.

Elections will be held on March 17.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also attended and spoke.

Mr Netanyahu did not go to the funerals for four rabbis and a Druze policeman killed by Palestinian militants at a Jerusalem synagogue in November.

He also did not attend the funerals of four French Jews killed in Toulouse in 2012, all of whom were buried in Jerusalem.

Asked why Mr Netanyahu had chosen to go to Tuesday's ceremony, his spokesman said there was nothing to add beyond the Prime Minister's comments at the funeral.

Mr Netanyahu's open invitation to French Jews to move to Israel has caused some discomfort to French leaders, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls quick to reassure the 550,000-strong community it is safe and an integral part of the republic.

That message was reiterated by French Energy Minister Segolene Royal, who attended Tuesday's ceremony.

"The French Republic shares your loss," she said.

"Your pain is ours. Your pain is that of all of France," she said, announcing that the victims were being posthumously awarded the Legion d'honneur, France's highest decoration.

"France without its Jewish community is not France."