Jerusalem Synagogue Killings: Fifth Victim Dies, Netanyahu Vows to 'Settle the Score'

by Christian Examiner, |
The body of a victim is carried from the scene at a West Jerusalem synagogue on Nov. 18, 2014. | Reuters

JERUSALEM (Christian Examiner) -- The Jerusalem synagogue terror attack claimed the life of a fifth victim Tuesday as a police officer who responded to the scene reportedly died from his injuries. Two Palestinian assailants killed four rabbis, who were praying in the temple, with a meat cleaver and pistol, and when the police officer showed up he was shot.

The West Jerusalem synagogue, which was located in the ultra-orthodox Har Nof neighborhood, was attacked by Palestinian cousins Udai Abu Jamal and Ghassan Abu Jamal, who left a total of five dead and seven wounded. Three of the four rabbis who were killed were dual U.S.-Israeli citizens, while the fourth had citizenship in Israel and the U.K. The bodies of Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Cary Levine, Rabbi Avraham Goldberg and Rabbi Aryeh Kopinsky were found inside the synagogue.

Authorities responded to the scene and both of the assailants were killed in the resulting shootout.

The attackers were lone wolves, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

They "have no previous security records and did not operate within the framework of any organization," Yoram Cohen, the head of Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet, told government officials.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to respond to the attack with a "heavy hand" Tuesday, he reminded citizens not to engage in vigilantism or revenge.

"As a nation we will settle the score with every terrorist and their dispatchers, and we have proved we will do so, but no one may take the law into their own hands, even if spirits are riled and blood is boiling," he said in a broadcast statement.

Israeli police forces raided the terrorists' homes and arrested many of their family members, according to Palestinian accounts. Netanyahu said that their homes will be demolished.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen, condemned the attack as well, though he blamed Israeli "provocations" for the violence. President Obama called for tensions to be lowered, as too many Israelis and Palestinians have been harmed in the ongoing conflict.

Since peace talks between Israel and Palestine failed in April, the dispute over holy land has led to increased violence. In June, three Jewish teens were kidnapped and killed by Palestinian militants in the West Bank. In July a Palestinian teen was burned to death as revenge. Ten Palestinians and at least nine Israelis have been killed in incidents since then.

The West Jerusalem synagogue attack was the deadliest in Israel since 2008, when a gunman killed eight students at a religious school.