Two Palestinian terrorists broke into a Synagogue in Jerusalem Tuesday morning yielding guns, knives and a meat cleaver, killing at least four worshipers and wounding at least eight, four of which are in critical or serious condition. Three the four murdered Jews were Americans: Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalmen Levin and Rabbi Moshe Twersky. The fourth, Rabbi Avraham Goldberg, was a British citizen.
According to Israeli police, the two Palestinian terrorists entered the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue on Shimon Agassi St. in the Har Nof neighborhood at about 07:00 a.m., during the morning prayers. They opened fire with weapons and struck worshipers with a meat cleaver and knives.
Shas Party member Aryeh Deri, who was in the Synagogue during the attack, told Army radio there was blood on the pews and floor, with wounded and dead worshipers still wrapped in Talit (prayer shawl) and T’fillin (phylacteries, a religious article Jewish men put on during prayer). They were shouting ‘Allah Akbar,’ as they carried out the attack,” he said, and tried to call police as the murder spree unfolded.
Mati Goldstein from the Zaka emergency service, said on Army Radio:
Neighbors reported screams from the synagogue during morning prayers. Then there were reports of many wounded. The two assailants, armed with axes and a least one gun, went on a killing spree and started to attack the worshippers.
The assailants cut off the arm of a worshiper wearing T’fillin, according to a statement from the organization Zaka.
Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement this morning, calling the attack a “normal reaction to the crimes of the occupation.” The claim was posted on the movement’s Facebook page and via social media. The PFLP bloody history includes Lod Airport Massacre and the attack on the Munich Olympic games.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Said released a statement, which said in part:
This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority – PA President Mahmoud Abbas], incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring. We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers. We will respond harshly.
In recent weeks leaders of the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah party, both controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas have been calling for violence in Jerusalem.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyahu to offer his condolences and called on President Abbas to end the incitement of violence.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the bloodbath, with a Hamas spokesperson saying it was a “response” to the suicide of an Arab bus driver Monday, which Islamists have nevertheless been blaming on “Israeli settlers” in order to stoke further tension.
An official statement from Abbas’ office said:
The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshipers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians.
However, as is their practice of saying one thing to the world community and something else to their own people, the Palestinian Authority’s official TV channel showed images of Bethlehem residents handing out candy in the streets in support of the attack.
The two terrorists, Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, both in their 20s, were members of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine.A police spokesman told Army radio that the two terrorists, cousins, were residents of the capital’s Jabal Mukaber neighborhood. One of the terrorists apparently worked at a convenience store on the same block as the synagogue.
The Israeli government is convening their security committee to determine a response.