Synagogue attack: Israeli PM Netanyahu vows to won 'battle for Jerusalem' after deadly assault

Netanyahu promised to 'settle the score with every terrorist' after attack

Heather Saul
Wednesday 19 November 2014 09:24
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to win “a battle for Jerusalem” after four rabbis and a policeman were killed in a frenzied attack on a synagogue.

The attack during morning prayers in the west Jerusalem neighbourhood of Har Nof was carried out by two Palestinian cousins wielding meat cleavers and a pistol. They were shot dead by police at the synagogue.

Three of the fatally wounded were born in the United States and the fourth was a British-born grandfather. A police man later died of his injuries and at least seven others were wounded.

Mr Netanyahu declared Israel is “in a battle over Jerusalem, our eternal capital” after the bloodshed and vowed to “settle the score with every terrorist and their dispatchers”.

However, he warned that "no-one may take the law into their own hands, even if spirits are riled and blood is boiling".

The Israeli PM also denounced what he described as “shouts of joy” from the dozens who celebrated in the streets of Gaza after the killing spree.

In an act of retaliation, he also ordered the demolition of the homes of the attackers.

US President Barack Obama branded the attack "horrific" and without justification and urged cooperation from both sides to ease tensions.

But Mr Netanyahu said he wanted to see “outrage” from the leaders of Western countries over the “massacre”. He pledged to increase security on the streets but did not detail exactly what this would involve.

On Wednesday, Jewish worshippers returned to the Jerusalem synagogue and sought comfort in prayer.

The attacks appeared to mark a turning point after weeks of unrest, with the gruesome scene in a house of worship shocking a nation long accustomed to violence.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews mourn during a eulogy ceremony ahead of the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Twersky, one of the four jewish victims

Two weeks ago, a Palestinian driver was shot dead by Israeli police after ramming his car into a crowd at a tram stop in East Jerusalem, killing a border policeman and wounding 13 others.

A Palestinian bus driver was found hanging in his vehicle in a Jewish part of Jerusalem late Sunday, which was ruled a suicide by an inquest. This verdict was disputed by his family members and others, who claim he was murdered for being Arab.

Shortly after Tuesday's attack, the Israeli government released a photo of a bloody meat cleaver it said came from the crime scene. Government video showed blood-soaked prayer books and prayer shawls on the floor of the synagogue.

"I saw people lying on the floor, blood everywhere," one worshipper at the synagogue told Israel Radio.

The bloody scene of the deadly attack

"People were trying to fight with (the attackers) but they didn't have much of a chance.”

Police identified the synagogue assailants as Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal, cousins from the Jabal Mukaber neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a militant group, said the cousins were its members.

The alleged terrorists, cousins Rasan (or Ghassan) and Uday (or Oday) Abu Jamal, residents of Jabel Mukaber

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the bloodshed in a statement, saying: "The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it.

But Mr Netanyahu said the Palestinian leader's condemnation of the attack was insufficient and accused Abbas of inciting the recent violence.

The synagogue attack was the worst in the city since 2008, when a Palestinian gunman killed eight people in a religious school.

Additional reporting by agencies

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