US President Barack Obama on Monday made a phone call to the parents of Ezra Schwartz, the 18-year-old American citizen murdered by a terrorist last Thursday in a shooting attack in Judea’s Gush Etzion.
In the call to the bereaved parents Ari and Ruth Scwhartz, which came a lengthy four days after the murder, Obama spoke about how Schwartz was studying at a yeshiva and volunteering in Israel during his gap year.
“The president offered his profound condolences and condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that took his life,” a senior administration official told JTA.
“The president also underscored that Ezra’s studies in Israel strengthened the bonds between Israel and the United States and, as we mourn his death, those bonds only grow stronger.”
Schwartz, who hailed from Sharon, Massachusetts, was to start business school at Rutgers University in New Jersey in the fall.
However, Obama has yet to issue an official statement on the American teen’s brutal murder even after the phone call.
During a news conference on Sunday in Malaysia, Obama mentioned two other Americans murdered in recent terrorist attacks in Mali and Paris, but neglected to mention Schwartz.
The US State Department and embassy in Israel only condemned the murder a day later, following a deafening silence from US officials that Arutz Sheva noted Friday morning.
Kerry also called
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday during a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he had also spoken to Schwartz’s family on Monday.
“Just yesterday, I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school ready to go to college, excited about his future,” said Kerry.
“And yesterday, his family was sitting at shiva (the traditional seven day period of intense mourning – ed.) and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent who lost their child.”
While the US government was slow in responding to the incident, the New England Patriots football team held a moment of silence for Schwartz on Monday.
Last Friday, Obama was petitioned directly via the White House website to condemn the murder of Schwartz.
“On November 19, 2015, Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year old American citizen from Sharon, MA, was murdered by a terrorist while on his way to do volunteer charity work,” the petition reads. “The government of the United States of America has failed to publicly acknowledge Ezra’s murder and has taken no action to condemn the terror attack that took three lives.”
“We respectfully request that President Obama publicly acknowledge the senseless killing of Ezra Schwartz, condemn the attack and rebuke the Palestinian Authority for claiming that the third victim of this attack, an Israeli Arab, was killed by Israeli forces, when not a single shot was fired by Israeli military or law enforcement and the terrorist was taken into custody unharmed,” it continues. “Such lies are irresponsible and incite further terrorism.”