By Haaretz Staff
A report in several media outlets that Jews killed during a terrorist raid of the Chabad House in Mumbai on Friday were found wrapped in prayer shawls is false, despite the credence lent it by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s repetition of the tale on Sunday.
“The pictures of the Jewish victims and this terrible image of the directors of the Chabad House wrapped in tallitot are shocking and bring us back to images from history, which we hoped would not be repeated,” Olmert said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. “But it appears that hatred of Jews and Israelis spurred these terrible acts.”
Olmert’s comments notwithstanding, there were no prayer shawls on the bodies of any of the six Jews killed in the Chabad House when Israeli Embassy officials, rescue workers and Haaretz and Maariv reporters went in after the raid. A senior diplomatic official said a rumor that one of the hostages had wrapped one or more of the others in a tallit was completely false.
Five Israelis and a Mexican Jewish woman were killed in the Chabad House during a three-day terror rampage in India’s financial capital, and two additional Israelis remain unaccounted for. The fatalities are among at least 174 people killed during the siege.
The rumor started because a Jewish doctor placed a tallit over the dead body of a Jewish victim in the hospital morgue, said the Israel Defense Forces attache in India, who led the Israeli rescue efforts. The doctor was apparently motivated by the Jewish precept of honoring the dead, in part by covering the corpse.
The rumor was apparently spread by an Israeli rescue worker from the Zaka organization who went to Mumbai to identify bodies and was in telephone contact with friends in Israel.