Netanyahu Promises ‘Strong Response’ After Jerusalem Attack
Another chapter of hostilities between Israel and Palestine could be on the horizon as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to “respond with a strong hand”after four people were killed, including one policeman, in a terror attack at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighborhood on Tuesday morning.
Police said two attackers from East Jerusalem entered the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood at 7 a.m. and began attacking worshipers at morning prayers with a gun, a meat cleaver, and an ax.
Both terrorists were killed by police within seven minutes.
Israel Police said there were six injured, including two policemen, one of whom was seriously injured, and another moderately hurt.
A man who prays at the synagogue told The Times of Israel that one of the victims was American, and another British. That report has not yet been confirmed.
The attack occurred at the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue, located in a religious institution which includes a study hall.
One of the worshipers said the two terrorists shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, and entered the synagogue without their faces covered.
Photos taken from inside the synagogue after the attack showed bloodied male worshipers lying on the floor, still wrapped in their prayer shawls and phylacteries.
“I tried to escape. The man with the knife approached me. There was a chair and table between us … my prayer shawl got caught. I left it there and escaped,” Yossi, who was praying at the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Channel 2 TV. He declined to give his last name.
A witness, identified only as Zohar, said there was panic at the scene.
“I heard shooting and one of the worshipers came out covered in blood and shouted ‘There’s a massacre,’” he said.
A video shot by a bystander shows police engaged in a shootout with the attackers. Both attackers were from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, Channel 2 reported. Clashes between residents and security forces broke out in the neighborhood.
According to Israel Radio’s Gal Berger, Palestinian sources said the attackers were cousins, named Said Abu Jamal and Uday Warsan.
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 Ramouni.” It was referring to the bus driver from East Jerusalem who was found hanged inside his vehicle late on Sunday in an incident Israeli police described as suicide but which a colleague said looked like murder.
One of the terrorists worked in a corner store near the synagogue, Channel 2 reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene security consultations around noon, his office said. “This is the direct result of the incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen,” he said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “Incitement that the international community irresponsibly ignores.”
“We will respond with a strong hand to the cruel murder of Jews who came to pray, and were caught by dark murderous hands,” promised Netanyahu.