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Hollande, Netanyahu commemorate Toulouse victims

In a ceremony in Toulouse, French President Francois Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commemorated four victims of a Jewish school shooting last March.

Hollande and Netanyahu took part in a ceremony on Thursday at the Ozar Hatorah school where the shooting took place. Members of the victims' families, as well as pupils and parents from the school, were in attendance. There was also a heavy police presence.

In March, Mohamed Merah killed a rabbi, his two sons, and the young daughter of the school's principle in the attack in March. He also killed three soldiers in two other attacks before being killed by police in a shootout. Merah claimed to have been inspired by al Qaeda.

Speaking at the school, Hollande said the safety of France's Jews was a top priority.

"Safeguarding their safety, their integrity and their dignity is a national cause," he said. "It is not only the affair of Jews but of all French people."

Netanyahu participated in the ceremony on the final day of his two-day trip to France, which is home to Europe's largest Jewish population.

"Every time a Jew is targeted for being Jewish, Israel is concerned," Hollande told Netanyahu. "That's why you are here."

The Israeli leader praised Hollande for his stance against anti-Semitism in France.

"In the dark days of Nazism ... most European governments did not lift a finger against the madness of anti-Semitism," Natanyahu said. "But today I am here with my friend Francois Hollande, who speaks clearly and resolute against this folly, and fights against it."

mz/dr (AFP, Reuters)