Hamas has applauded the grisly terrorist attack in a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead. Among the dead are four dual citizens. Three of them were dual American-Israeli citizens and one was a dual citizen of Israel and the UK.
The two assailants who launched their attack with meat cleavers and a gun during early morning prayers were then killed by police officers in the ensuing gun battle at the scene of the attack.
The deaths occurred as the two men – identified by family members as cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal from the East Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber – burst into the Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of West Jerusalem.
A man who identified himself only as Yossi and was in the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Channel 2: “The police arrived and surrounded the entrance and then the terrorist ran out and they shot him. There was wild gunfire. People ran out of the synagogue. It was hell.”
“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.”
Yosef Posternak, who was also praying in the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Israel Radio that about 25 worshippers were inside when the attackers entered.
Three of the victims held dual US-Israeli citizenship, and one was a British-Israeli citizen – 68-year-old Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, who emigrated to Israel from the UK in 1993.
The three US citizens were 59-year-old Rabbi Moshe Twersky – the head of an English speaking religious college – Aryeh Kopinsky, 43, and Kalman Zeev Levine, 55. The grandson of one of the founders of the Modern Orthodox movement, Twersky lived close to the scene of the attack in Har Nof.
The two attackers were reportedly members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Police killed them as they attempted to escape. Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, has called for additional attacks on civilians. Palestinians in Gaza have reacted to the attack by celebrating, passing out candy and brandishing axes.
Israel Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu promises a “harsh response” to the attack.