Four killed in terror attack in Jerusalem synagogue - Update from the Israel Foreign Ministry
The victims: Rabbis Moshe Twersky, 59, Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, and Kalman Levine, 55.
PM Netanyahu: "This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen."
Scene of terror attack in Jerusalem synagogue Copyright: Israel Police
At 7: 00 on Tuesday morning, 18 November 2014, two terrorists entered the Kehillat Bnei Torah building on Harav Shimon Agassi Street in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem, which includes a synagogue and yeshiva, wielding a gun and butcher knives. They began attacking worshipers, stabbing them before opening fire. About 30 worshipers were in the midst of the morning prayers, wearing prayer shawls and phylacteries.
Police who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack began shot and killed the two terrorists.
Police confirm that four people were killed in the terror attack and eight wounded, three seriously and one critically. Two of the wounded are policemen, one in critical condition as doctors fight for his life.
The victims has been identified as: Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, head of the Torat Moshe Yeshiva in Jerusalem, elder son of Rabbi Isadore Twersky of Boston, and a grandson of Modern Orthodox luminary Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The three other victims are Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, and Rabbi Kalman Ze'ev Levine, 55, all residents of the same street in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Following security consultations, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the recent attacks and directed that enforcement against those who incite toward terrorist attacks be significantly increased. A series of additional decisions have been made to strengthen security throughout the country.
Hamas said on its official Al-Aqsa TV: "The attack in Jerusalem is a reaction to the crime and execution of the martyr al-Ramouni and a reaction to the crimes of the occupation. The Hamas movement is calling for more revenge attacks." Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, employed as a driver by the Egged bus company in Jerusalem, was found hanged at a bus terminal on Sunday night. Contrary to claims published in the Palestinian media that al-Ramouni was murdered, official autopsy results confirmed the police's suspicion of suicide.
US Secretary of State John Kerry strongly condemned the attack (the video is here):
"People who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere.” "To have this kind of act, which a pure result of incitement,” is unacceptable, Kerry said, adding that Palestinian leaders “must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, other people’s language and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path."
The White House liason with the Jewish community has just emailed me President Obama's statement regarding the terror attack, issued just now. It reads, in its entirety, as follows:
"I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more. There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians. The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence. 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."
Here is the complete statement of Secretary of State Kerry this morning:
I was just on the phone to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. This morning, today in Jerusalem, Palestinians attacked Jews who were praying in a synagogue. And people who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder.
I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, and particularly after a discussion that we had just the other day in Amman, where the prime minister of Israel flew to Amman, sat down with the Custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque, King Abdullah of Jordan, and went to the extent of restoring in absolute terms the status quo with respect to the management of that mount, including lowering the age, taking away any age limits on people who could visit, guaranteeing that there were peaceful, completely uninterrupted visits over the weekend. And to have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement of calls for days of rage, of just an irresponsibility, is unacceptable.
So the Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path. Our hearts go out to all Israelis for the atrocity of this event and for all the reminders of history that come with it. This is – simply has no place in human behavior, and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead – lead their people to a different place.
From Omri Ceren at The Israel Project:
Some more links and background on recent Abbas statements, in case you're following the incitement debate:
Nov 2: "Abbas says Glick shooter will go to heaven as martyr" (you'll be hearing more about this stmt - Glick is an activist for expanded Jewish access to the Temple Mount; he's also a rabbi and when he was shot earlier this month Abbas hailed the terrorist as a hero; today 2 other terrorists walked into a synagogue and started murdering other rabbis)
Nov 11: "Abbas accuses Israel of 'religious war'"
Nov 11: "Abbas: We won’t let Israeli extremists 'contaminate' Temple Mount in Jerusalem"