Last updated: 20 March, 2012

Bodies of French school victims bound for Israel

Families and friends wept as the bodies of three children and a rabbi began their journey on Tuesday from the French Jewish school where they were shot dead to their burial in Israel.

Two black hearses carried the bodies out of Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse and left for a nearby airport where they were flown on a military plane to Paris from where they were due to continue on a commercial flight to Tel Aviv.

Relatives and friends had gathered at the school in the southwestern city for the departure of the bodies of 30-year-old Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 4, and seven-year-old Miriam Monsonego.

The three children were Franco-Israeli citizens.

President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to be at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport for the arrival of the bodies there later Tuesday, while his foreign minister was to travel with the families of the dead to the burial in Israel.

The funerals will begin at 0700 GMT at Givat Shaul cemetery in Jersualem, the Israeli foreign ministry said.

France has launched a massive manhunt for the shooter behind Monday’s school attack. He is suspected of being the same person who shot dead three soldiers in Toulouse on March 11 and in nearby Montauban four days later.