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The Hindu
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PTI

On 15th anniversary of 26/11 attack, Moshe's grandfather thanks Indians for treating his family's pain as their own

The grandfather of Moshe Holtzberg, the youngest survivor of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, has expressed his gratitude to the people of India for treating his family's pain as their own all these years.

Moshe, who was just two at the time of the deadly 26/11 attack, carried out by 10 Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists, lost both his parents, Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and Rivka Holztberg, in the assault on Nariman House, also known as Chabad House.

Also Read | 26/11 anniversary: how The Hindu covered the Mumbai terrorist attack

"The people of India remember what happened on this day 15 years ago. You remember the tragedy that struck our family and also the families of other Israeli people," Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, Moshe's grandfather, told PTI.

"I want to say that I, my wife Yehudit and also the Moishi (Moshe) boy, feel it and want to thank you all in India for your similar feelings for the tragedy that struck us and you all," he said.

"This year especially shows how terrorists want to murder the Jews but we still hope for peace in the whole world," he said at a time when Israel is at war with the Islamist Hamas terror group after they carried out a brutal attack in its territory on October 7.

Moshe's parents were the emissaries of the Chabad Movement in Mumbai at the time of the 26/11 attack.

Moshe's pictures with his nanny Sandra holding him close to her chest after saving his life in a daring move in the middle of the terror attack caught worldwide attention.

"Moshe is well and learning in a Yeshiva. Sandra is in Israel and comes from Jerusalem to be with us every alternate weekend. She has a permanent place in our house as a member of the family," Rabbi Rosenberg said.

Sandra was given honorary citizenship by the government of Israel and conferred with the title of "righteous gentile", a rare honour extended to those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The family held annual prayers in memory of their dear ones on November 13 in Afula as per the Hebrew Calendar this year. They decided not to do the prayers in Jerusalem this year because of the ongoing situation in Israel.

Last year, in an emotional recorded video message Moshe had called upon the international community to look for ways to counter terror so that "nobody has to go through what he has gone through".

He narrated the story of his lucky escape in a daring act by Sandra "who risked her own life to save his" and about his growing up in Israel with his grandparents, Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg, who have been raising him as their own son.

They are his grandparents from his mother's side.

On November 26, 2008, ten Pakistani terrorists entered the south Mumbai areas through a sea route and attacked a number of places, including Chabad House, a Jewish centre. The indiscriminate attack killed 166 people, including six Jews and 18 security personnel.

The 26/11 attack continues to be an emotional moment for a lot of Israelis who feel that it "is a shared pain" that binds India and Israel together.

Last week, Israel re-affirmed its declaration of Lashkar-e-Taiba as a terror organisation to symbolise the marking of the 15th year of commemoration of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

"While Israel only lists terror organisations who are actively operating against it from within or around its borders, or in a similar manner to India - those globally recognised by UNSC or the US State Department; the Israeli ministries of Defence and Foreign affairs, have jointly worked in the last few months towards an expedited and extraordinary listing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba organisation on this date, to highlight the importance of a Unified Global Front in combating terrorism," an official statement stressed.

Israeli Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Lior Haiat separately confirmed the development to PTI saying that it was initially done so in 2013 but has now formally entered the records.

Seen by many as a "shared pain", 26/11 continues to stir outrage in Israel every year with commemorative events condemning the senseless killings and demands for justice against the masterminds of the terror attack heard every year across the country.

Jewish outreach movement, Chabad, in 2021 unveiled a plaque in the southern coastal city of Eilat in memory of the six Jewish victims of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Six Jews, who were amongst the 166 victims of the terror attack, were killed at the Chabad House.

Israeli leaders and officials have repeatedly called for the perpetrators of the horrendous crime to be "brought to justice".

Pictures of the little toddler, Moshe, orphaned in the brutal attack evoked widespread anger and also generated a lot of interest in him.

Recalling his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Israel in 2017, Moshe in the recorded message had said that, "he hugged me warmly and was really excited and invited me with my grandparents to visit India".

The youngster later did visit India with his grandparents during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India in 2018.

"I feel grateful to him (Mr. Modi) for his warmth and kindness," the youngster, who dreams of one day becoming the Director of the Chabad House in Mumbai, said.

The family was also granted a long-term multiple-entry visa to facilitate their visits to India.

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