Four people were killed in a terror attack at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighborhood Tuesday 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 was not immediately 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.
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.
A video shot by a bystander shows police engaged in a shootout with the attackers.
Both terrorists 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 Warsan.
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. Palestinian media claimed he was murdered; an autopsy established that he committed suicide.
One of the terrorists worked in a corner store near the synagogue, Channel 2 reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening 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!”
Aharonovitch described the attack as part of a new wave of terrorism by lone attackers, and promised that the security forces would do their utmost to thwart it.
Crowds at the scene shouted out 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.
The attack came a day after tensions in Jerusalem once again ramped up in the wake of Ramouni’s suicide Sunday night. The driver’s family claimed he had been killed by Jewish extremists, setting off riots and strikes in the capital Monday.
AP and AFP contributed to this report.
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