A British-Israeli national has been identified as one of five people killed by knife-wielding attackers in a Jerusalem synagogue today.
Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, and three US-Israeli citizens died when two assailants, described by Israeli police as ‘terrorists’ went on a killing spree armed with a pistol and a meat cleaver in a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood. An Israeli police officer, 30-year-old Zidan Saif, died later after being taken to hospital with critical injuries.
Rabbi Goldberg lived in Golders Green, London, for a number of years before moving to Israel, Haaretz reports.
Haaretz identified the other victims as US-born Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, and Kalman Zeev Levine, 55, both residents of Har Nof, and Mosheh Twersky, 59, the grandson of one of the founders of the Modern Orthodox movement and a teacher at a Jerusalem seminary. A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “We are aware of the death of a dual British-Israeli national in Israel on 18 November 2014. "
Rabbi Goldberg's cousin, Michelle Hirschfield, said he "was a peaceful man, not politically involved. He only wanted peace."
Eight others were injured in the attack. One worshipper at the service said about 25 people were praying when shooting broke out. He told Israel Radio: "I looked up and saw someone shooting people at point-blank range. Then someone came in with what looked like a butcher's knife and he went wild."
Photos distributed by Israeli authorities showed a man in a prayer shawl lying dead, a bloodied butcher's cleaver on the floor and prayer books covered in blood.
Police said the attackers, who were shot dead by police, were Palestinian cousins from East Jerusalem.
Unrest in Jerusalem
Unrest in Jerusalem
A masked Palestinian celebrates the attack on the Jerusalem synagogue holding a poster of the attackers,Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, during a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
A masked Palestinian youth wearing a Hamas headband uses a sling-shot to throw back a tear gas canister towards Israeli forces during clashes outside the Israeli-run Ofer military prison following the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue
Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate with others an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of one of the two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking worshippers at a synagogue to an ambulance in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
An Ultra-orthodox jewish man prays at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
An Israeli woman cries on a veranda next to a synagogue where a suspected Palestinian attack took place in Jerusalem
An Israeli police officer gestures as he holds a weapon near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of an assailant who was shot dead while attacking a synagogue
Israeli emergency services personnel clean the sidewalk at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Israeli security personnel run next to the synagogue in Har Nof, where a suspected Palestinian attack took place
A Palestinian activist knocks a hole through the wall near East Jerusalem
A masked Palestinian youth burns a tire near Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank town of Abu Dis near Jerusalem
Palestinian mourners attend the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni in the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem . A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle in Jerusalem, sparking clashes, after what Israel said was an apparent suicide but a colleague said looked like murder
A Palestinian protester tries to hammer a hole through Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
Palestinian protesters climb a ladder at Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
Israeli border policeman arrested over shooting of Palestinian boy during West Bank protests
Masked Palestinian youths clash with Israeli security forces in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Tor
Israeli fire fighters inspect the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian man rammed his car into a crowded train platform in east Jerusalem and then attacked people with an iron bar, killing one person and injuring 13 in what authorities called a terror attack before he was shot dead by the police. The militant Islamic group Hamas took responsibility for the attack
Israeli police officers walk at the scene of an attack in Jerusalem
Israeli rescue workers and paramedics carry an injured man to an ambulance after a Palestinian man, Ibrahim al-Akri, was shot by Israeli police officers after he drove into a crowd of people
Ultra-Orthodox Jews look on from behind a police line at the scene of a killing when a Palestinian man drove a van into a crowd of police and civilians along the tracks of the Light Rail trolley system in East Jerusalem
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a militant group, said the cousins were its members.
Palestinian media named the attackers as Ghassan and Udai Abu Jamal, cousins from the Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber, where clashes broke out as Israeli security forces moved in to make arrests.
On Tuesday evening, police said they were investigating claims that a Palestinian was stabbed in the leg and hospitalised by three Jewish assailants in downtown Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have attended a joint funeral for Mr Kupinsky, Mr Levine and Mr Goldberg held before sundown outside the synagogue where the attack occurred.
Following the incident, Israel's public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, vowed to ease restrictions on carrying firearms for self-defense.
It was not clear when the new measures would be put into place, but Mr Aharonovitch said the rule would apply to anyone licensed to carry a gun in Jerusalem such as private security guards and off-duty army officers, the Times of Israel reported.
Mr Aharonovitch added that the government had instructed synagogues to place security guards at their entrances.
In addition, police officers have raised the threat level in the city to one below the highest, and patrols around religious buildings and holy including mosques and synagogues would be enhanced.
Earlier, Hamas praised the attack, saying it was a "response to continued Israeli crimes, the killing, desecrating al-Aqsa (mosque)".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Tuesday's violence as a "cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers and vowed to "respond with a heavy hand".
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, the first time he has done so since a recent spike in deadly violence.
In a statement, his office said he "condemns the killing of the worshippers in a synagogue in west Jerusalem". The statement called for an end to the "invasion" of the mosque at the holy site and a halt to "incitement" by Israeli ministers.
US President Barack Obama also expressed his disapproval of the attack in which three US-Israeli dual nationals were killed, and called on both sides to co-operate with each other and "reject violence".
"I strongly condemn today's terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem," Obama said in a statement. "There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians," he said.
He added: "At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace."
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