Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called emergency security consultations Tuesday in the wake of what Israeli leaders have termed a “massacre” by two Palestinian terrorists at a synagogue that left four dead and six injured.
Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the gruesome early morning attack, and vowed to respond harshly.
“This is the direct result of the incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen [Abbas], incitement that the international community irresponsibly ignores.” Netanyahu said in a statement. “We will respond with a strong hand to the cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were caught by dark murderous hands.”
Netanyahu convened security consultations with top officials around noon. Directly after the attack, Ya’alon convened his own meeting of security brass.
Also blaming the “incitement, lies and hate” circulated by the Palestinian Authority and Abbas, Ya’alon vowed that Israel will “chase down the perpetrators and those who sent them everywhere and in every way, within the borders of Israel and outside.”
Netanyahu has called several such meetings in the wake of recent terror attacks, often calling to step up punishments against Palestinian assailants.
Four people were killed and several more injured when two East Jerusalem men stormed into a synagogue and religious institution in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof early Tuesday with an ax, a meat cleaver and a gun. The two were killed by police.
In the wake of the attack, Israeli MKs and world leaders roundly joined Netanyahu in blaming incitement by Palestinian leaders for the attack.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, in London for talks on the Middle East and other security matters ahead of a trip to Vienna for nuclear negotiations with Iran, condemned the assault and called on Palestinian leaders to halt incitement, The Associated Press reported.
In Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called on the international community to respond to what he said was Abbas’s anti-Semitic incitement, which he said caused the attack.
“Abbas has turned the conflict into a religious conflict between Jews and Muslims and his systematic incitement that he leads against Jews — whom he defines as impure who are not allowed to enter the Temple Mount — is instructions to carry out nasty attacks like this,” said Liberman.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the hawkish Jewish Home party, also blamed Abbas for the attack.
“Mahmoud Abbas, one of the greatest terrorists to come from the Palestinian people, is directly responsible for the spilled blood of Jews wearing tallit and tefillin,” he said, referring to images of the killings showing slain worshipers still wearing prayer shawls and phylacteries. “While we were busy with our fantasies about of the diplomatic process, we created for ourselves an interwoven infrastructure of terrorism and incitement.”
“Abbas declared war on Israel, and we must treat it accordingly,” he added.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch directly linked the attack to incitement by Palestinian leaders following the suicide hanging death of a Palestinian bus driver Tuesday night. He accused Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Israel-based Islamic Movement of inciting violence and claiming the driver was killed by Jews, even though an autopsy ruled out homicide.
He called on Israeli citizens not to resort to vigilantism.
“The terrorists will be defeated,” he said. “I call on residents not to take the law into their own hands and allow security forces to do their job.”
While Aharonovitch pledged security forces would do everything in their power to return security and calm to the city, he once again said that he could not promise there would be no more attacks.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein echoed Bennett in blaming PA incitement for the attack and implied that Israel should cut ties with the Palestinians.
“While we are making an effort and calling for calm, the brutal incitement by Palestinian Authority leaders continues and worsens,” Edelstein said. “Israel should not be dealing with those whose way is to slaughter innocents in our holy places,” he added
Shas MK Eli Yishai, who lives in Har Nof, called on security forces to treat the situation in Jerusalem like a war.
“These are scenes of war that we haven’t seen in our neighborhoods for years,” he said. “There is a war being waged in Jerusalem and security forces must treat it as such. This is a war inside of Israel for its very existence.”
Robert Rydberg, the head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s Middle East department, who is scheduled to visit Israel this week, wrote on Twitter: “Seeing reports of apparent terror attack against synagogue here in Jerusalem. Despicable. This must end.”