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Slaughter: At least four people dead, including three Americans in Terror attack in Jerusalem

November 18, 2014  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Slaughter: At least four people dead, including three Americans in Terror attack in Jerusalem Image courtesy of nydailynews.com

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According to Fox News, initial reports have at least Four people dead and six wounded at a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday when two Palestinians armed with knives, guns, and axes stormed the building and began attacking people before they were killed in a shootout with police.

Now reports have surfaced that three victims are American citizens.

The attack in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood in the western part of Jerusalem, was the deadliest in Israel’s traditional capital since 2008, when a Palestinian gunman shot eight people at a seminary school.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel’s response will be harsh.

He denounced the attack, calling it a “cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he spoke to Netanyahu after the assault and denounced it as an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence.”

Kerry blamed the attack on Palestinian, calls for “days of rage,” and said Palestinian leaders must take serious steps to refrain from such incitement. He also urged Palestinian leaders to condemn the attack “in the most powerful terms.”

Israeli police described the assault as a terrorist attack and said the two Palestinian assailants were cousins from east Jerusalem, which has been the scene of relentless clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in recent months.

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack but refused to claim responsibility.

Hamas said the attack was a retaliation for what they called the murder of a Palestinian bus driver who was found hanged in his vehicle late Sunday.

Israeli police say the autopsy results shows  the man’s death was a suicide, but that has not been accepted by the man’s family.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said six people were also wounded in the attack, including two police officers. Four of the wounded were reported in serious condition. He said police were searching the area for other suspects.

The Times of Israel reported witnesses who said the two men shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack as they entered the synagogue without their faces covered.

“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,” a man who identified himself as Yossi, who was praying at the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Israeli Channel 2 TV. He declined to give his last name.

Another witness, identified only as Zohar described panic at the scene.

“I heard shooting and one of the worshipers came out covered in blood and shouted ‘There’s a massacre,'” he told The Times of Israel.

A photo in Israeli media from inside the synagogue showed what appeared to be a body on the floor draped in a prayer shawl, with blood spattered nearby.

Jerusalem has seen a spate of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis. At least six people have been killed in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Tel Aviv in recent weeks, prior to Tuesday’s casualties.

Jerusalem residents have already been fearful of what appeared to be lone wolf attacks using cars or knives against pedestrians. But Tuesday’s early morning attack on a synagogue harkens back to the gruesome attacks during the Palestinian uprising of the last decade.

Israel’s police chief said Tuesday’s attack was likely not organized by militant groups, similar to other recent incidents, making it more difficult for security forces to prevent the violence.

“These are individuals that decide to do horrible acts. It’s very hard to know ahead of time about every such incident,” Yohanan Danino told reporters at the scene.

Image courtesy of nydailynews.com

Image courtesy of nydailynews.com

Tensions appeared to have been somewhat defused last week following a meeting between Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jordan. The meeting was an attempt to restore calm after months of violent confrontations surrounding a sacred shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Israel and the Palestinians said then they would take steps to reduce tensions that might lead to an escalation.

Much of the recent violence stems from tensions surrounding the Jerusalem holy site referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount because of the Jewish temples that stood there in biblical times. It is the most sacred place in Judaism; Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The site is so holy that Jews have traditionally refrained from going there, instead praying at the adjacent Western Wall. Israel’s chief rabbis have urged people not to ascend to the area, but in recent years, a small but growing number of Jews, including ultranationalist lawmakers, have begun regularly visiting the site.

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