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Four killed in terror attack on Jerusalem synagogue

PREAMBLE: Four people were killed, including one policeman, in a terror attack at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighborhood this morning.

Police said two attackers from East Jerusalem entered the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood at 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 within seven minutes.

Israel Police said there were six injured, including two policemen, one of whom was seriously injured, and another moderately hurt.

A man who prays at the synagogue told The Times of Israel that one of the victims was American, and another British. That report has not yet been confirmed.

The attack occurred at the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue, located in a religious institution which includes a study hall.

One of the worshipers said the two terrorists shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, and entered the synagogue without their faces covered.

The two terrorists from Jabel Mukaber who carried out the attack on a Har Nof synagogue, November 18, 2014 (screen capture: Channel 2)
The two terrorists from Jabel Mukaber who carried out the attack on a Har Nof synagogue, November 18, 2014 (screen capture: Channel 2)

Photos taken from inside the synagogue after the attack showed bloodied male worshipers lying on the floor, still wrapped in their prayer shawls and phylacteries.

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

A witness, identified only as Zohar, said there was panic at the scene.

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

Both attackers were from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, Channel 2 reported. Clashes between residents and security forces broke out in the neighborhood.

According to Israel Radio’s Gal Berger, Palestinian sources said the attackers were cousins, named Said Abu Jamal and Uday Abu Jamal.

Initial reports indicated the two were affiliated with the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad hailed the attack, saying it was in reaction to the death of a Palestinian bus driver.

In a statement, the Islamist Hamas movement, which dominates Gaza, said it was “a response to the murder of the martyr Yusuf Ramouni.” It was referring to the bus driver from East Jerusalem who was found hanged inside his vehicle late on Sunday in an incident Israeli police described as suicide but which a colleague said looked like murder.

One of the terrorists worked in a corner store near the synagogue, Channel 2 reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene security consultations around noon, his office said.

“This is the direct result of the incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen,” he said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “Incitement that the international community irresponsibly ignores.”

“We will respond with a strong hand to the cruel murder of Jews who came to pray, and were caught by dark murderous hands,” promised Netanyahu.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called an emergency meeting in the wake of the attack.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino arrived at the scene, and were heckled by bystanders, who yelled, “Go home!”

Crowds at the scene recited Psalms, while others chanted, “Death to terrorists!”

The ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood where the attack occurred sits at the Western edge of Jerusalem and has been mostly shielded from the violence that has wracked the city in recent weeks.

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