Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Jerusalem, West Bank on high alert after synagogue killings - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Israeli security personnel run next to a synagogue, where a suspected Palestinian attack took place, in Jerusalem, on November 18, 2014. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Israeli security personnel run next to a synagogue, where a suspected Palestinian attack took place, in Jerusalem, on November 18, 2014. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Ramallah and Tel Aviv, Asharq Al-Awsat—Jerusalem and the West Bank were on high alert on Wednesday as clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police broke out in the West Bank following an attack by two Palestinians on a synagogue in Jerusalem on Tuesday which killed five people, including four rabbis. A fifth victim, a policeman, died later in the evening in hospital as a result of his injuries.

It later emerged the rabbis killed were not Israeli citizens—three were from the US, and the fourth was a British citizen.

The assailants, cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, ran through the synagogue during morning prayers attacking worshippers with bladed weapons and a gun, before being shot dead by Israeli police.

Both were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an Arab nationalist, Marxist–Leninist group, which praised the act “as a natural, nationalist reaction to the crimes the Israelis have been committing against the Palestinian people,” though it stopped short of taking responsibility for the attack. Islamist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad also praised the attack.

In a statement on Tuesday following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas for their “incitement” of the killing and promised a harsh response from Israel.

He later ordered the homes of the assailants to be destroyed and said Israel would win “the battle for Jerusalem” and “settle the score with every terrorist” who attacked the country.

Abbas, meanwhile, condemned the attack, saying that “we [the Palestinian Authority] cannot in any way condone attacks on civilians, or on places of worship.”

He also condemned “the attack” on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in reference to Israeli Knesset members who visited the Haram Al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, in recent weeks, a site sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

He also condemned “the burning of mosques and churches,” in apparent reference to the torching of a mosque by Israeli settlers in the West Bank last Wednesday.

The attack comes amid high tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in recent weeks, with a growing cycle of tit-for-tat violence coming only a few months following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza last July and August, and the contested status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.