4 Israelis killed in synagogue attack, Prime Minister vows to respond with ‘heavy hand’
JERUSALEM (CNN) — Two knife- and axe-wielding Palestinian men broke into a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday morning and killed four Israeli worshipers, Israeli police said.
Police responded and shot and killed the attackers, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN. He said the men came from East Jerusalem and also had a handgun.
Six others were wounded during the attack in the Har Nof area of West Jerusalem including two responding police officers, Rosenfeld said. He said the attack took place around 7:15 a.m. while about 10 people were worshiping in the synagogue.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned top aides to a “security consultation” later Tuesday in Jerusalem, his office announced.
“We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers,” Netanyahu’s office posted on his official Twitter feed.
“This is the direct result of incitement being led by Hamas & Abu Mazen (a reference to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas), incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring,” he added.
A Hamas spokesman said the attack was a response to the death of a Palestinian bus driver under disputed circumstances. But Hamas did not claim responsibility for the Jerusalem attack Tuesday.
“The operation in Jerusalem is a response to the killing of Yousuf al-Ramouni and the other ongoing crimes by occupiers in Jerusalem,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri posted on Facebook.
Hamas predicted more conflict.
“There will be more revolution in Jerusalem, and more uprising,” senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Al Jazeera International.
“Hamas in general supports action against the occupation,” he said by phone from Gaza. “Hamas supports any military action against the occupation anywhere it can be carried out.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from London, said the attack in Jerusalem is “an act of pure terror.”
Rosenfeld said the attack Tuesday took place in a quiet neighborhood.
“There were more than 10 people praying in the synagogue quietly,” he said.
“They used axes and knives to kill the people. They were killed, stabbed to death at the scene. Israeli police units who responded shot to death both of the terrorists. We’re continuing to search the neighborhood to make sure there are any further terrorists.”
Other deaths and stabbing attacks have occurred recently in Jerusalem, raising tensions.
The synagogue attack occurred not far from where al-Ramouni was found hanged on Sunday, CNN’s Ben Wedeman reported.
Police said the death was a suicide, but the driver’s brother described seeing bruises and “signs of blood” on his brother’s back.
Also on Sunday, an Israeli was stabbed with a screwdriver near central Jerusalem. That stabbing victim was taken to the hospital in moderate condition, Rosenfeld said Sunday.
And last week, a 20-year-old was stabbed and killed in Tel Aviv, and three people were stabbed — one fatally — near the entrance to a settlement in the West Bank.
The latter incident took place at the same hitchhiking spot where three Israeli teens were kidnapped earlier this year; they were later killed.