WORLD-Four killed in attack
Palestinians hit on worshippers in synagogue
Jerusalem –– The people who killed the four worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue “came with great hatred and . . . incitement against the Jewish people and its state”, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today.
He blamed the Palestinian Authority and others for spreading “libels against the state of Israel” and other incitements that he said led to today’s killings and other recent deaths.
A Jerusalem synagogue turned from peaceful sanctuary to house of horrors within moments today, after two Palestinian cousins wielding knives, axes and a gun attacked during morning prayers.
Police responded within minutes, shooting and killing the attackers inside the synagogue in West Jerusalem’s Har Nof area, said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
But not before six people had been wounded, and three dual American-Israeli citizens and a British-Israeli citizen had been killed.
The terror attack –– the deadliest in Jerusalem since a man with an automatic weapon killed eight seminary students in March 2008 –– came at a particularly tense time in the Israeli city, and the region at large. It follows a series of recent deadly stabbings and vehicle incidents that, while not the large-scale suicide bombings that defined last decade’s second intifada or the rocket attacks from Gaza earlier this year that have left Jerusalem on edge.
“While Israelis are a tough breed, repeated, totally unpredictable attacks are bound to take their toll,” said David Harris, an expert with The Israel Project. “Is a mother going to allow her child to walk to school, to catch a bus to a movie theatre or [ride a train] to visit a friend?”
After the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office vowed “we will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers”.
His spokesman Mark Regev told CNN’s New Day that Israel’s police presence would be beefed up, saying: “We’ve got to make sure there are no copycat attacks.”
Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the slain attackers’ homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber, where Israeli security forces clashed with residents later today, authorities said. The Palestinians’ official WAFA news agency reported 13 were arrested, including an al-Aqsa Mosque guard.
Netanyahu’s office called the attack “the direct result of incitement being led by Hamas” and Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas, referring first to the Palestinian group that controls Gaza and next to the Fatah movement leader in control of the West Bank.
Abbas condemned the synagogue bloodshed, WAFA reported, while stressing the need to end the causes of such attacks like tensions over what Jews call the Temple Mount and Palestinians call al-Aqsa Mosque.
In comments later today to Israeli military recruits, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said Abbas “did well in condemning the attack”, even as he insisted that the Palestinian leader must do more in acting “vigorously against incitement”.
Yet in Gaza, Palestinians not only didn’t condemn the attack, they celebrated it, according to the Jerusalem Post and photos shared by Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner.
Hamas –– which has been at odds with Abbas and his Fatah movement –– did not claim responsibility for the bloodshed, though it didn’t back away from it either. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the group, instead linked the attack to the discovery Sunday of a Palestinian bus driver found hanged in his bus not far from where today’s attack occurred.
Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad predicted to Al Jazeera International that “there will be more revolution in Jerusalem, and more uprising”.
“Hamas in general supports action against the occupation,” Hamad said.
“Hamas supports any military action against the occupation anywhere it can be carried out.