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Netanyahu Expresses ‘Deep Shock,’ Offers Aid to Sri Lanka

Netanyahu's annexation pledge condemned by election challenger
AFP
DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – Israel has offered aid to Sri Lanka as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his shock after a bombing attack killed at least 290 people and wounded 600 others on Easter Sunday. 

Meir Ben-Shabbat, the head of Israel’s National Security Council, told Udaya Seneviratne, secretary to Sri Lanka president Maithripala Sirisena, that Israel would render assistance to Colombo after Netanyahu offered to help.

“In the name of the citizens of Israel, I express deep shock at the murderous attacks against innocent people in Sri Lanka,” Netanyahu said in a tweet in Hebrew. “Israel is ready to assist the authorities in Sri Lanka at this dark hour. The whole world must unite in the struggle against the plague of terrorism.”

President Reuven Rivlin called the attacks “a despicable crime.”

“We are all children of God; an attack on one religion is an attack on us all,” he tweeted. “Israel sends condolences to the families of the victims, and wishes for the recovery of the injured.”

The Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that no Israelis were harmed in the attacks. An Israeli died in Sri Lanka on Sunday from an unrelated accident.

Sri Lanka is visited by some 8,000 Israeli tourists every year, many of whom are surfing enthusiasts.

Israel does not have an embassy in Colombo but Sri Lanka does have one in Tel Aviv, dealing primarily with the estimated 9,000 Sri Lankan caregivers in Israel.

According to Danny Carmon, who served as Israel’s ambassador to India and non-resident ambassador to Sri Lanka from 2014-2018, Israel is viewed as one of the better destinations for Sri Lankans to find work, both in terms of salaries and treatment given to them.

Sunday’s series of blasts devastated three churches and three luxury hotels and were likely targeting Catholic worshipers attending Easter Mass.

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