“At Least Four Israelis Dead After Terrorist Attack on Jerusalem Synagogue,” by Sharona Schwartz, The Blaze, November 18, 2014 (thanks to Marcus):
At least four people were killed in Jerusalem Tuesday morning when two Palestinian attackers armed with knives, axes and guns entered a synagogue during morning worship services and began striking those praying.
Hamas called the killings “heroic” and said they were “revenge” for the death of a Palestinian bus driver in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel would respond strongly and called the attackers “despicable,” blaming the killings on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.
“This is the direct result of the incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen,” Netanyahu said referring to 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,” Netanyahu vowed.
Abbas also condemned the attack via a statement issued by his office, but at the same time denounced “provocative acts” by Israelis.
“[T]oday, the presidency denounces the killing of worshipers at a place of worship in West Jerusalem,” Abbas said in a statement posted on the official Wafa news agency.
”The presidency also denounces all violent acts no matter who their source is, and demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers,” the statement read, according to the Ma’an News Agency.
Israel’s Army Radio reported that two of the attackers were killed and that a manhunt was underway for a third terrorist who is believed to have driven the two attackers to the synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood.
Israel Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that police who responded to the emergency call killed the attackers on site.
“We are viewing this as a terrorist attack,” Rosenfeld said.
An Israel Defense Forces spokesman tweeted that within an hour of the attack, Hamas had issued words of praise while Palestinians in Gaza were seen shooting in the air and setting off fireworks to celebrate the news of the synagogue killings.
— Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) November 18, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry, traveling in London Tuesday, condemned the attack and demanded Palestinian leaders stop inciting to violence, a position that appeared to coincide with Netanyahu’s words.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro called the attack “pure, unadulterated evil.”
He wrote on Facebook that the attack “represents a barbaric new low in the sad and outrageous history of such attacks. Murdering worshippers at prayer in a synagogue is an act if pure, unadulterated evil.”
“There is no possible justification for such an act of violence,” Shapiro added.
Zaki Heller, a spokesman for the Magen David Adom first emergency medical responders told Israel Army Radio that at least 10 were attacked at the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue.
Even before the Hamas statements issued in Gaza and Qatar, Palestinian affairs reporters told Israeli media that they suspected the synagogue rampage might have been a revenge attack for the death over the weekend of a Palestinian bus driver. Police were on alert after the apparent suicide of the Arab bus driver in Jerusalem. Though the evidence pointed to a suicide, the Palestinian Authority foreign ministry blamed Netanyahu as being personally responsible for the “murder” of the driver.
— Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) November 18, 2014
Israel Radio’s Gal Berger quoting Palestinian sources reported that the attackers were cousins, named Said Abu Jamal and Uday Warsan, who lived in Jerusalem.
The Times of Israel quoted eyewitnesses who were interviewed by Hebrew-language media outlets.
One of the men who was in the synagogue said the two terrorists shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.
“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,” said Yossi, one of the worshippers interviewed by Israel’s Channel 2 television.
Yosef Posternak who was also there described the horrific scene, “I saw people lying on the floor, blood everywhere. People were trying to fight with (the attackers) but they didn’t have much of a chance.”
A witness named Zohar described the panic: “I heard shooting and one of the worshipers came out covered in blood and shouted ‘There’s a massacre.’”
One of those killed was Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 60, originally from Boston, who headed an English-speaking rabbinical seminary, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Twersky was the grandson of a renowned Jewish religious figure, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik.
Jerusalem has been gripped by weeks of violence including Palestinian car attacks, stabbings and the shooting of a well-known rabbi. Before Tuesday, at least five Jews had been killed in terrorist attacks in recent weeks.
An Israeli news service posted video of the tense standoff with gunshots heard as police stood poised to strike the attackers.