Four Israelis killed in Jerusalem synagogue attack
JERUSALEM/LONDON/GAZA CITY - Agence France-Presse
Israeli security personnel run next to a synagogue, where a suspected Palestinian attack took place, in Jerusalem, November 18, 2014. REUTERS PhotoTwo Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue on Nov.18 and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years.
It was a rare attack on a place of worship and sent shock waves through the country, raising fears that the already deadly Israel-Palestinian conflict was taking on a dangerous religious dimension.
The bloodshed took place as months of unrest gripped the city's annexed Arab eastern sector, which has resulted in a string of deadly attacks by lone Palestinians and was further enflamed by the death of a Palestinian bus driver in controversial circumstances earlier this week.
But none was as serious as Tuesday's assault on the synagogue in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood on the city's western outskirts as worshippers gathered for the morning prayers.
Medics and police said four worshippers were killed, among them a rabbi, and another eight people wounded, one critically and three seriously.
The attack began shortly before 7 am (0500 GMT) as worshippers were attending prayers at a synagogue in a Jewish seminary in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood.
Police said the assailants burst in with meat cleavers and a pistol and began attacking worshippers. Two policemen engaged in gunbattle with them in which the attackers were eventually shot dead, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
The assailants were identified by family members as Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, cousins from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber. Both were in their 20s.
Israel vowed a harsh response with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the bloodshed at the synagogue was a "direct result" of incitement by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Abbas himself condemned the killings but Hamas welcomed the attack, describing it as a fitting "response" to Israeli actions in annexed east Jerusalem.
Turkey condemns attack
Turkey has condemned an attack by two Palestinian men in a Jerusalem synagogue which killed four people on Nov. 18.
“It’s not possible for us to approve attacks against holy places, regardless of which religion it belongs to,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, adding he condemned the attack. Çavuşoğlu’s remarks came at a joint press conference with visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuimioja.
Recalling that Turkey also condemned attacks carried out by Israeli troops at the al-Aqsa mosque last week, Çavuşoğlu described the situation as a spiral. “Negative moves from Israel continue, but there is no excuse to attack a synagogue,” he said.
Tuimioja also condemned the attack and underlined that the absence of a peace process was triggering such violent acts. “We should certainly do our best to stop this violence. In this sense, the most important thing is to return to a genuine peace process and make a two-state solution possible,” he said.
Jerusalem attack 'result' of Abbas, Hamas incitement: Israel PM
The attack is the "direct result" of incitement by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
"This is the direct result of incitement by Hamas and Abu Mazen [Abbas], incitement that the international community ignores in an irresponsible manner," Netanyahu said in a statement.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also condemned the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue as an "act of pure terror and senseless brutality."
Speaking in London ahead of talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Kerry called on the Palestinian leadership to denounce the attack, which was carried out by two Palestinians armed with a gun and axes in the Har Nof neighbourhood.
"This morning in Jerusalem Palestinians attacked Jews who were praying in a synagogue," Kerry told reporters.
"People who have come to worship god in a sanctuary of a synagogue were ... murdered in a holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder.
"I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms," he added. "This violence has no place anywhere particularly after the discussion that we had just the other day in Amman."
Hamas, Islamic Jihad hail synagogue attack
Hamas and Islamic Jihad hailed the attack, saying it was in reaction to the death of a Palestinian bus driver.
In a statement, the Islamist Hamas movement, which dominates Gaza, said it was "a response to the murder of the martyr Yusuf Ramuni."
It was referring to the bus driver from east Jerusalem, who was found hanged inside his vehicle late on Nov. 16 in an incident Israeli police described as suicide but which a colleague said looked like murder.