Diplomacy & defense

Policeman critically wounded in Jerusalem terror attack succumbs to injuries, bringing death toll to five

Five Jewish worshipers were killed and eight were wounded during morning prayers Tuesday in a terror attack at a synagogue in west Jerusalem.

Ynet (Tazpit agency)

Two Palestinians from the Arab neighborhood of Jabel al-Mukaber, east Jerusalem, entered a synagogue in the religious Har Nof neighborhood during morning prayers, went from room to room attacking the worshipers with guns, knives and axes. The terrorists were shot dead by two traffic policemen, who arrived first to the scene.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine took responsibility for the attack.

Gali Tibbon (AFP)

One of the worshipers reported the attackers shouted "Allahu Akbar." Eyewitnesses reported a third terrorist fled the scene but the police said there were only two terrorists, both of them killed.

The wounded were evacuated to hospitals, including two in moderate condition and two were lightly wounded.

Palestinian sources said that the terrorists were cousins Rassan,27, and Uday Abu-Jamal,22, from Jabel al-Mukaber. The two were related to a prisoner released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal. One of them worked at a grocery store near the synagogue.

Jerusalem synagogue terrorists: Cousins Rassan,27 (R), and Uday Abu-Jamal,22, from Jabel al-Mukaber

Israeli media described the scene as "a massacre." Palestinian media appeared to link the attack to the discovery of a Palestinian bus driver, who was found hanged in his bus nearby on Sunday night. This despite the fact that an autopsy conducted in the presence of a Palestinian pathologist, found no evidence of foul play and rules the death a suicide. The family insists the man was killed by Jews.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will convene a security cabinet meeting Tuesday afternoon: "We will convene a special security consultation. The attack is a direct result of Hamas and Abbas incitement. The international community is irresponsibly ignoring the incitement. We will respond forcefully to the heinous murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by debased murderers.

Latest developments:

21:44 GMT: Policeman critically wounded in Jerusalem terror attack succumbs to injuries.

15:56 GMT: In a live public address, Netanyahu declared that Israel is currently "in the midst of a battle for Jerusalem," which faces an "ongoing terror onslaught." He also said he was shocked with reports that in Gaza sweets were handed out in celebration of the attack.

Although Abbas has condemned the attack, he is guilty of inciting against Israel and thus compromising the security of Israelis, Netanyahu further added, clarifying there was no discrepancy between him and Shin Bet chief as "Abbas does not encourage terror, but his words constitute incitement."

16:07 GMT: Obama urges Israel, Palestinians to calm tensions after "horrific" attack.

16:04 GMT: The United Nations Human Rights Council urges Israel not to destroy the Jerusalem terrorists' homes.

"Israel's response should be done in accordance with international law," said a spokesman for the High Commissioner of the organization. "We call on Israel not to destroy [the homes]: this is a violation of international law."

16:01 GMT: Arab youth says was stabbed in the leg by Jewish assailants in Jerusalem city center.

15:56 GMT: Bahrain and Turkey's Foreign Ministers both issued a statement condemning the terror attack in Jerusalem.

“The murder of Jews praying in a synagogue is a crime,” Bahraini FM Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa was quoted as saying by the Walla! news site. “The injustice of the occupation does not give one the right to harm innocent worshipers.”

15:23 GMT: In a meeting with senior officials, Netanyahu issued orders to immediately demolish the homes of the terrorists responsible for the attack at a Jerusalem synagogue earlier today and to mete out harsher punishments to those who incite to terror.

14:12 GMT: The four victims of the attack were brought to rest in Jerusalem.

12:16 GMT: The head of Israel Security Service (the Shin Bet or Shabak), Yoram Cohen, contradicted an earlier statement by Netanyahu, saying Abbas was not involved in the attack. "Abbas is not interested in terror, does not lead to terror, not even under the table," Cohen said at the Knesset. He added that Tuesday's terrorists were not involved in the past in terrorism nor did they train or receive advance instructions from any organization.

12:10 GMT: Israeli-American Kalman Levin, 50, is the third victims in the attack.

Israeli-American Arye Kopinsky is the fourth victim.

11:42 GMT: British national Avraham Shmuel Goldenberg, 68, father of six, is the second victim in the attack.

10:59 GMT: European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini condemned the deadly attack as an "act of terror" and urged regional leaders to try to calm the situation. "The attack in the Har Nof synagogue this morning killing at least four people can only harm any step forward towards peace. It is an act of terror against worshippers at morning prayers and is condemnable by all means," Mogherini said in a statement.

10:23 GMT: Heads of the Arab parties in the Knesset condemned the attack, saying there is no excuse for hurting innocent citizens and worshipers. However, they put the blame on Netanyahu and the Israeli occupation.

10:04 GMT: Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitz announced Tuesday a series of security measures to fight the recent wave of terror in Jerusalem, including a ban on the burial of Jerusalem residents who commit these attacks within the city's boundaries. He also instructed the deployment of four additional squads of Border Police fighters.

09:58 GMT: - Israeli-American 60-year-old Rabbi Moshe Twersky, head of a local Jewish seminary (Yeshiva), is one of the victims in the attack. His funeral was scheduled for 12:00 GMT Tuesday at the Givat Shaul cemetery in the capital.

09: 51 GMT - Clashes between 200 Palestinians and 50 settlers near Yitzhar in West Bank.

09:30 GMT - Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the terror attack in Jerusalem was a direct result of Palestinian incitement, lies and hatred against Israel led by Abbas. "Those lies are supported and financed by extreme Islamic movements, led by Hamas. Israel will strike against terrorism and will not allow anopne to disrupt our lives. We will hunt the perpetrators and their senders everywhere inside Israel and outside of it," he added.

09:00 GMT - EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faarborg-Andersen said he was horrified, adding he "utterly condemns the despicable terror attack on worshippers at the Jerusalem synagogue."

08:55 GMT - US Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyau and expressed his condolences and condemned the attack. He also called on the Palestinian leaders to halt the incitement. "The attack has no place in human behavior," he added.

08:50 GMT - Jewish settlers protest, hurl fire bombs near the settlement of Yitzhar, south of the city of Nablus.

08:42 GMT: Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf said the attack was "a natural response to the recent events" in Jerusalem.

Abbas' office issued a statement condemning the attack. "We demand end to incursions into Al-Aqsa, provocations by settlers, and incitement by some ministers in the Israeli government. . . It's time to end the occupation and put an end to everything that causes violence and tension."

Former minister in the Palestinian government Ashraf al-Ajami told i24news the Palestinian Authority condemns any attacks against innocent civilians whether Israeli or Palestinian.

08:30 GMT: Clashes erupted in Jabel al-Mukaber between Palestinians and the police. Nine people were arrested. Palestinians in the West Bank were firing firecrackers and sharing candies in a show of solidarity with the terrorists.

07:43 GMT: Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz accused Abbas of carrying the responsibility for the horrible massacre and to the wave of attacks and riots in Jerusalem.

07:40 GMT: Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: "Jerusalem is hurting and grieving. Worshippers were slain at a prayer house in the center of Jerusalem in a horribly cruel murder...We will not let terrorism prevail...I promise to Jerusalem residents that we will keep on fighting and do everything in our power to restore the quiet."

07:30 GMT: Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Adelstein said the attack was a direct result of Palestinian incitement against Jews. Minister of the Economy hardliner Naftali Bennet said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has declared war against Israel. "He is the one responsible for the bloodshed of worshippers."

07:00 GMT: Hamas Spokesman Mushir al-Masri said the terror attack was revenge for the "killing" of the Palestinian bus driver.

Israeli minister Naftali Bennet holding a picture of one of the victims in the Jerusalem synagogue attack, November 18, 2014


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