Early Tuesday morning (7:00 Israel time), two Palestinian terrorists entered a synagogue in Har Nof (a neighborhood in north-west Jerusalem), with the intention of massacring innocent Jews at prayer. Using a gun and butcher knives, the terrorists murdered four Jewish worshippers during their morning prayers. All four men were rabbis and all held dual citizenship: three were American-Israelis and the fourth was a British-Israeli dual citizen.
A police officer who was critically injured while attempting to stop the terrorist attack succumbed to his wounds late Tuesday evening, bringing the death toll to five. Seven other Israelis were wounded (three of them seriously) in the attack.
The two terrorists from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber were killed during the exchange of fire with police. This massacre of peaceful worshippers is the latest in a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks.
These terrorist attacks as well as Palestinian violence on Jerusalem's Temple Mount are caused by intensive Palestinian incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism against Israelis. As US Secretary of State John Kerry stated today in London, this morning's attack on the synagogue was "the pure result of incitement."
This vicious incitement is conducted by the Palestinian Authority, led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and extreme Islamist elements, particularly Hamas. The incitement is based on false claims against Israel and outright lies, including about sensitive religious issues.
For example, on Sunday, a Palestinian bus driver committed suicide in Jerusalem. The official autopsy and police investigation found that he had committed suicide by hanging himself inside his bus. Despite this, official PA media and other sources enflamed the situation by spreading the lie that he was murdered by Jews. This morning, the main headline of the official PA paper, al-Hayat al-Jadida, quoted Abbas calling the suicide "an abominable crime" and the bus driver "a martyr."
Palestinian incitement is continuing despite last Thursday's talks (13 November) in Jordan with Secretary Kerry, King Abdullah of Jordan, PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The parties were supposed to act to calm the situation in Jerusalem. Israel did; Abbas most certainly did not. While Israel acted to restore calm and reaffirmed its commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount, the Palestinians incited to terrorism and carried out murders. Israel ended the temporary security restriction on younger Muslims praying on the Temple Mount on Friday. The PA's official media called for a "Day of Rage" on Friday. Instead of calming the situation, Abbas exploited Sunday's suicide to inflame it.
Most members of the international community have turned a blind eye to Palestinian incitement to violence. This permits Abbas and other Palestinian leaders to allow the publication of the hate speech and blood libels that directly inspire terrorist attacks. World leaders and the international community at large should condemn this systematic and pervasive incitement, starting with that being carried out by President Abbas and PA officials.
While Abbas' office did issue a lukewarm condemnation of the attack this morning (which focused more on blaming Israel than denouncing or even identifying the attackers), it was clearly an attempt to deflect international pressure. Abbas' own Fatah party praised the terrorists who attacked the synagogue. Sultan Abu Al-Einein, an advisor to Abbas and a member of Fatah's Central Committee, called the synagogue attack "heroic" on Facebook. An additional statement praising the attack in the name of Fatah's Jerusalem branch was published on a main Fatah Facebook page.
Recent Palestinian terrorist attacks
16 November (Saturday night): A 35-year-old Jewish man was moderately injured after being stabbed in the back by a Palestinian in Jerusalem.
10 November: A 26-year-old Israeli woman died in the West Bank after being run over and stabbed.
10 November: An off-duty IDF soldier was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv.
5 November: An Israeli police officer and 17-year-old yeshiva student were murdered and 13 others injured when a Palestinian terrorist deliberately rammed his car into pedestrians near a Jerusalem light-rail station and then attacked them with a metal bar.
29 October: Rabbi Yehuda Glick was shot multiple times and critically injured by a Palestinian terrorist in central Jerusalem.
22 October: A three-month-old baby girl and a young woman from Ecuador were murdered, deliberately run over by a Palestinian driver at a light-rail train station in Jerusalem. Seven others were wounded.
United States - President Barack Obama stated the he strongly condemned the attacks which killed 3 US citizens. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, called the attack an "act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was "horrified and heartbroken" by the attack. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement condemning the "horrific terror attack" which he said "was a deplorable act of evil that should be denounced as such by all regardless of their political or religious beliefs." The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they will be investigating the incident.
Canada - Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the "barbaric act of terror." Harper said Canada's "thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel."
European Union - Federica Mogherini, EU chief of foreign policy, condemned the deadly massacre as an "act of terror."
France - President François Hollande issued a statement condemning "the heinous attack ... in a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who dared to welcome the act."
Germany - Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the "deadly attacks targeting innocent believers in a place of worship" a "terrible transgression in an already extremely tense situation."
Great Britain - Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the Palestinian attack, writing "I'm appalled by today's horrific attack on worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue. My thoughts are with the victims' families."
Turkey - Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu condemned the attack.
United Nations - Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, describing the attack as a "reprehensible incident", "strongly condemns today’s attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem which claimed four lives and injured several persons." Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said: "There can be no justification whatsoever for these deliberate killings."
Bahrain - Sheikh Abu Khalifa, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, condemned the attack.
Palestinian Authority - Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, stated that "the presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshipers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it."
Hamas - Hamas praised the attack as "an appropriate and functional response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation." In the Gaza Strip people distributed sweets to celebrate, and brandished axes and posters of the killers. Palestinian television displayed photographs of celebratory scenes in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, and Palestinian radio called the killers "martyrs".
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