US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned a Jerusalem terror attack that left four people dead Tuesday morning, calling on Palestinian leaders to halt incitement.
Kerry telephoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer condolences following the gruesome killing spree by Palestinian assailants at a Jerusalem synagogue, while other world leaders also expressed horror at the attack.
Kerry, in London for talks on Iran and the Middle East, called the assault an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality” and called on the Palestinian leadership to condemn it “in the most powerful terms.”
“Innocent people who had come to worship died in the sanctuary of a synagogue,” Kerry said, his voice quavering. “They were hatcheted, hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on Palestinians at every single level of leadership to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, particularly after the discussion that we just had the other day in Amman.”
Police said two attackers from East Jerusalem entered the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood shortly after 7 a.m. and began attacking worshipers at morning prayers with a gun, a meat cleaver, and an ax. Both terrorists were killed by police.
Kerry blamed the attack on Palestinian calls for “days of rage” and said Palestinian leaders must take serious steps to refrain from such incitement.
Netanyahu told Kerry that “this is a direct result of [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s] incitement. This is a despicable murder in a holy place.”
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) November 18, 2014
Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders earlier pointed the finger at Abbas and the Palestinian leadership for the attacks.
The European Union’s envoy to Israel Lars Faaborg Andersen wrote on Twitter that he was “horrified by and utterly condemn the despicable terror attack on worshipers in Jlm synagogue that left 4 dead and 4 badly injured.”
The United Nation’s special envoy to the region, Robert Serry, said in a statement he “abhorred the attack this morning on a synagogue in West Jerusalem. There can be no justification whatsoever for these deliberate killings, which he strongly condemns.”
He called on all sides to work to calm tensions in the region.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was in Israel on Sunday, lamented the attack, saying he hoped it would serve as “a loud wake-up call” that the current situation could quickly spiral out of control.
“That houses of worship are becoming scenes for deadly attack on innocent believers is a terrible crossing of a line in an already extremely tense situation,” he said in Kiev.
“I was in Jerusalem only a few days ago and could feel how tense the atmosphere there is,” Steimeier added. “What has now happened is a tragedy. I hope that this is now also a loud wake-up call. The tensions can quickly lead to a violent outburst. Mixing the many unresolved issues in this region with ‘religious confrontation’ gives this already serious conflict another dangerous dimension.”
Officials from Sweden, which recently officially recognized Palestine as a state, condemned the attack and called for an end to the violence.
Seeing reports of apparent terror attack against synagogue here in Jerusalem. Despicable. This must end.
— Robert Rydberg (@RydbergMena) November 18, 2014
We strongly condemn the shocking terror attack this morning in Jerusalem. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.
— Sweden in Israel (@SwedeninIL) November 18, 2014
Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad hailed the attack, saying it was in reaction to the death of a Palestinian bus driver. An Israeli autopsy had established Monday that the driver committed suicide, a finding rejected by his family.
“Hamas calls for more operations like it,” a spokesman for the group said in a statement.