MOSCOW, November 18 (Sputnik) — Two men armed with knives, axes and guns have carried out an attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem, killing four people and injuring six, the Associated Press reports.
The attackers, identified by police as Palestinians from East Jerusalem, were killed after a shootout with law enforcement officers, according to officials. The men stormed the synagogue, located in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood, shortly after dawn.
Synagogue in Har nof in Jerusalem after terror attack. Terrorists from east Jerusalem. Police Forensics at the scene pic.twitter.com/7F9CfPkHhM— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) 18 ноября 2014
Police confirm 4 Israelis killed in synagogue attack in Jerusalem. Both terrorist shot and killed by police.— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) 18 ноября 2014
“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, a worshipper at the synagogue at the time of the incident, as quoted by the AP.
“We are viewing this as a terrorist attack,” Reuters quoted police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld as saying. The attack in the synagogue is the worst in Jerusalem since 2008, when eight people were killed at a religious seminary school, according to Reuters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted the attack is “a direct result of incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas], incitement that the international community has been irresponsibly ignoring.” He vowed to “respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by lowly murderers,” as quoted by Reuters.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the incident, Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised it, claiming it was in response to the death of a bus driver, according to AFP. “Hamas calls for the continuation of revenge operations and stresses that the Israeli occupation bears responsibility for
tension in Jerusalem,” Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman said, as quoted by Reuters.
The attack comes at a time of mounting tensions in the city, with the access to the Temple Mount, a holy site for Muslims and Jews alike, being the main point of contention.
On November 5, Israeli police have shot dead a man who earlier drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing one and injuring 13 people.
A similar incident took place in Jerusalem in October, when a 3-month-old infant and a student from Ecuador were killed when a resident of one of the city’s Arab neighborhoods crashed into a tram stop.
The driver was also shot dead by a police officer as he tried to flee the scene.
Israeli authorities later announced his connection with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.