As the Ledger went to press, news of the massacre at a Jerusalem synagogue was just breaking. Among the dead were three U.S. citizens.
JERUSALEM (JTA) – Four Israelis were killed in a terror attack during morning prayers at a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Two Palestinian assailants entered the synagogue and rabbinical seminary in the Har Nof neighborhood of western Jerusalem and attacked worshippers with a gun, axes and knives.
Three of those killed in the attack on the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue were dual American and Israeli citizens. At least eight worshippers also were injured, some seriously.
Police killed both assailants, who have been identified as residents of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. Police reportedly began searching the homes of the assailants after the attack. Palestinian reports said the assailants, who are cousins, are relatives of terrorists released in the exchange to return Gilad Shalit.
The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror organization in a statement posted on its Facebook page and other social media claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a “normal reaction to the crimes of the occupation.”
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations praised the attack and called for more such attacks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the attack on “incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen” – the nom de guerre of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – and the international community for “irresponsibly ignoring” such incitement.
“We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister called a security consultation for Tuesday afternoon.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in London, called Netanyahu to offer his condolences.
“This simply has no place in human behavior,” Kerry told reporters, and called for Palestinian leaders to condemn the attack.
Abbas’ office later said in a statement that the presidency always denounces the killing of civilians by any party, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported, and denounced Tuesday’s attack.
“The presidency also denounces all violent acts no matter who their source is, and demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the Al-Aksa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers,” the statement added.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement, “Jerusalem bows its head in pain and sorrow on this difficult morning. Jerusalem residents peacefully praying in a synagogue in the heart of Jerusalem were cruelly slaughtered in cold blood while wearing their prayer shawls.
“We will not surrender to terror. We will stand strong and defend our city from those who try to disturb the peace of our capital.”
In the wake of the attack, synagogues throughout Israel have been instructed to place security guards at their entrances. Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovich, also announced on Tuesday that his office would ease requirements for gun licenses.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who held a security consultation in his Jerusalem office following the morning attack in western Jerusalem, ordered the demolition of the homes of the two Palestinian terrorists who perpetrated the attack, according to a statement from his office following the meeting. A series of additional decisions also were made in order to strengthen security throughout the country, the statement said.
Three victims are U.S. citizens
JERUSALEM (JTA) – Rabbi Moshe Twersky, the grandson of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, was identified as one of the four people killed in a Jerusalem synagogue attack. Twersky, 60, was among the three dual Israel-U.S. citizens killed in the Tuesday morning attack during services at the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in western Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood. He was the dean of the Torat Moshe Yeshiva, an advanced level English-speaking yeshiva attended mostly by post-high school students from English-speaking countries.
Soloveitchik, known as the Rav, was the founder of modern Orthodoxy. Twersky was the son of rabbi and author Yitzhak Twersky of Boston.
Twersky was the first of the victims to be identified. The other three were named early Tuesday afternoon. They are Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, and Kalman Zeev Levine, 55, residents of Har Nof who were born in the United States, and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, an immigrant from Britain.
At least eight worshippers also were injured, some seriously, including two police officers who engaged in a shootout with the assailants, who were killed at the scene.