Palestininan terrorists attacked Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav Kook, a Jerusalem talmudic college, Thursday evening, and a heavy loss of life is reported. Early news reports indicate that at least 8 people were killed and some 40 wounded when the Palestinian gunmen opened fire in a crowded dining hall. Two terrorists were reported killed, at least one by an armed Yeshiva student--whether the terrorists are included in the 8 persons reported killed is not known. At least one additional terrorist is being sought. Indeed, an e-mail I received from Israel indicates that police believe the remaining terrorist is hiding in the Yeshiva building armed with explosives. News reports on the attack may be found here from AP and here from the Jerusalem Post.
Mercaz HaRav is one of the crown jewels of Religious Zionism, the flagship of religious Zionist yeshivot. It was founded in 1924, as the world's first Zionist yeshiva, by HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, one of the most influential Rabbis of the 20th Century, and the first Ashkenasi Chief Rabbi of the Jewish settlements in Palestine ("the Yishuv"). While unquestionably loyal to Torah, he parted from many in the religious community in pre-Israel Palestine by enthusiastically supporting the Zionist enterprise. He even had close associations with leaders of the secular Zionist movement, who he viewed as unknowlingly furthering God's plan for the re-establishment of the Jewish Commonwealth in the Land of Israel. His philosophy dominates the Religious Zionist and settler movements of today, making Mercaz HaRav an appropriate target for Palestinian terrorists.
The present Rosh Yeshiva (Dean) of Mercaz HaRav is HaRav Yaakov Shapira, he should live and be well, the son of HaRav Avraham Shapira, the previous Rosh Yeshiva and former Chief Rabbi of Israel. Information about the Yeshiva may be found here.
YNET UPDATE as of 9:15 p.m: According to YNET there were only two attackers, one of whom was killed by an armed Yeshiva student. The search is continuing in the Yeshiva building for the remaining terrorist. A police spokesman said the dead gunman was wearing an explosives belt. He also wore a vest that at first was thought to be explosives, but turned out to be additional ammunition. Some 80 people were in the dining hall when the terrorists entered and opened fire.
FURTHER UPDATE: Later reports indicate that there was only one shooter, who was killed by a yeshiva student. Thank God, the toll of wounded was far less than originally reported--the later reports indicate only 11 were wounded. As I suspected, the attack was not on a dining hall, as originally reported. The Jerusalem Post now reports, "About 80 students had gathered in the library to celebrate the Hebrew month of Adar II, which begins on Friday evening." When I first posted this update, I speculated that what the Jerusalem Post called "the library" actually was the Beit Midrash, the study hall. However later reports confirmed the attack occurred in the yeshiva library.
A yeshiva is a place of worship as well as a place religious studies. Will any Moslem leader condemn this murderous attack on a Jewish place of worship, the way Jews almost universally denounced the attack by Boruch Goldstein on the mosque in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994?
May God avenge the blood of his holy ones.