Four Israelis were killed in a terror attack during morning prayers at a Jerusalem synagogue and a police officer was killed in a shoot-out with the attackers afterwards.
Two Palestinian assailants entered the synagogue and rabbinical seminary in the Har Nof neighborhood of western Jerusalem and attacked worshippers on Tuesday with a gun, axes and knives.
At least eight worshippers also were injured, some seriously, in the Tuesday morning attack on the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue. Three of those killed are dual American and Israeli citizens.
In response to the terror attacks, Rabbi Avi Weiss, who heads the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, along with Russian-American Jewish Experience (RAJE) and a number of Jewish organizations will gather today outside of the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations in NYC, located at 115 East 65th Street between Park & Lex.
“This act of terror against Jews who went to a synagogue for morning prayer is despicable and the world must stand against the incitement of the President of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen whose words have lead to terror. Jewish blood is not cheap,” said Rabbi Weiss.
Those gathered will hold Israeli and American flags, and hold afternoon prayer services in solidarity with their brethren who were murdered in Jerusalem during morning prayers.
Police killed both of the 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 say the assailants, who are cousins, are relatives of terrorists released in the exchange to return Gilad Shalit.
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations praised the attack, and said it was in retaliation for the death of a Palestinian bus driver who was found late Sunday night hanged in his bus at a terminal in Jerusalem.
An autopsy Monday at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv found that the death was not criminally related, Israel Police said. The body was returned to the family. However, a Palestinian pathologist said in a separate report that there were signs of violence on his body, and the family said he was killed by “settlers."
Hamas called for more such attacks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a security consultation for Tuesday afternoon following the attack.
He blamed the attack on “incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen” – the nom de guerre of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and blamed 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 following the terror attack.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is 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.
“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,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement.
“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.”
Notes: This story was updated Nov. 18 to reflect that a police officer later died of wounds from the shootout. Hannah Dreyfus, staff writer, contributed to this report.