Policeman wounded in Jerusalem synagogue attack dies, raising victim death toll to 5
JERUSALEM (CNN) — A policeman who was wounded in Tuesday’s attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem has died, Racheli Goldblatt, a spokeswoman at Hadassah hospital, told CNN.
The death raises to five the number of people killed by the attackers.
A Jerusalem synagogue turned from peaceful sanctuary to house of horrors within moments Tuesday when two Palestinian cousins wielding a gun and butcher knives attacked during morning prayers — a terror attack that Israel’s leader characterized as “blood libel” fanned by Palestinian leaders.
Even as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was “glad” but insisted it “is not enough.”
Addressing reporters Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for national unity against “those human animals who committed this massacre” and against those — singling out Hamas, the Islamic movement and the Palestinian Authority — who he claims “disseminate libels against the state of Israel.”
“There are those who wish to uproot us from the capital, from our land,” he said, referring to Jerusalem. “They will not be successful… We have to unify forces.”
Netanyahu spoke hours after the latest act of violence to afflict the region, this time at a synagogue in West Jerusalem’s Har Nof area.
Photos taken inside the Jewish house of worship, and released by Israeli officials, painted a grim scene — from lifeless bodies sprawled on a floor to a shattered pair of glasses to blood seemingly everywhere, drenching holy books, prayer shawls and walls.
Three dual U.S.-Israeli citizens and a British-Israeli citizen died in the attack before police shot and killed the two assailants.
The terror attack — the deadliest in Jerusalem since a man with an automatic weapon killed eight seminary students in March 2008 — came at a particularly tense time in that city and the region at large. It follows a series of recent deadly stabbings and vehicle incidents that, while not the large-scale suicide bombings that defined last decade’s second intifada or the rocket attacks from Gaza earlier this year, have left Jerusalem on edge.
Netanyahu blasts ‘incitement’ by Palestinian leaders
The answer to what’s next came quickly, as Israeli authorities moved into the slain attackers’ East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber to demolish their homes on Netanyahu’s order. The Palestinians’ official WAFA news agency reported 13 people were arrested, including an al-Aqsa Mosque guard.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat — whose city is about two-thirds Jewish and one-third Arab — said the attack were incited by Hamas and terror organizations who use “rumor and misfacts” about Palestinians are treated in the city.
Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, said that authorities were also beefing up security around Jerusalem.
“The goal is to make sure that there are not copycat attacks,” Regev said.
The war of words between the two sides, meanwhile, continued.
“(Abbas) does not send out terrorists, he doesn’t directly encourage acts of terror, and this is good,” the Netanyahu said, echoing an assessment by an Israeli security chief. “On the other hand, the incitement of the Palestinian Authority — and he heads the Palestinian Authority — and even some things he says … encourage terrorism, in terms of incitement (of) tensions that run high.”
There was no such equivocation about Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza. It’s been at odds with Israel and also with Abbas’ Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank.
Hamas did not claim responsibility for the synagogue attack, though it didn’t back away from it either. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the group, instead linked the attack to the discovery Sunday of an Palestinian bus driver hanged in his bus not far from where Tuesday’s attack occurred. (For his part, Netanyahu said that claims the bus driver was killed were lies and that his death was ruled a suicide.)
Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad predicted to Al Jazeera International that “there will be more revolution in Jerusalem, and more uprising.”
“Hamas in general supports action against the occupation,” Hamad said. “Hamas supports any military action against the occupation anywhere it can be carried out.”