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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Israel warned of "ongoing terror" onslaught as four killed in bloody synagogue attack

Four rabbis were killed in an early-morning attack by men armed with a gun and meat cleavers. The assailants were shot dead.

Updated 8.07pm

Source: AP/Press Association Images

ISRAEL IS FACING an ongoing wave of terror which is focused on Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said tonight — after an attack on a synagogue earlier that left four rabbis dead.

“We are at the height of an ongoing terror attack focused on Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a live public address, just hours after two Palestinian cousins from annexed east Jerusalem staged the attack with meat cleavers and a gun, leaving scenes of carnage.

The two men who carried out the attack were shot dead.

Netanyahu warned Israelis against taking the law into their own hands by carrying out revenge attacks.

He also pledged to demolish the homes of the assailants who carried out the bloodshed.

“This evening, I ordered the destruction of the houses of the Palestinians who carried out this massacre and to speed up the demolition of those who carried out previous attacks,” he said, reiterating a pledge made on 6 November just days after a Palestinian rammed his car into pedestrians, killing two in the second such hit-and-run attack in a fortnight.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

But Netanyahu (above) also sought to calm tempers, warning Israelis not to take the law into their own hands.

“Citizen of Israel, I call on you to demonstrate great vigilance and to respect the law because the state will bring to justice all the terrorists and those who dispatch them,” he said.

It is forbidden for anyone to take the law into their own hands, even if tempers are high and even if you’re burning with anger.

Israel would also “step up enforcement and harshen the penalties” against anyone or any organisation involved in incitement, the premier said.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

He linked the attack to inflammatory statements about the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound made by the Palestinian Authority, the Hamas movement and Israel’s Islamic Movement, a religious advocacy group.

Known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the mosque compound is sacred to both faiths and one of the most sensitive sites in the Middle East.

“Hamas, the Islamic Movement and the Palestinian Authority are spreading no end of libels… against the state of Israel,” he said.

They say that the Jews are defiling the Temple Mount, they say that we are planning to destroy the holy places there, that we are intending to change the prayer rites there.

“It’s all a lie. And these lies have already cost a very high price,” he said, listing the Israeli victims of recent Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem.

Today more victims were added to their number due to this crazy blood libel.

Netanyahu also accused the international community of trying to reward the Palestinians in reference to a planned vote by Spain’s parliament on a non-binding motion calling on the government to recognise a Palestinian state.

“Unfortunately, there are some who are trying even now to give the Palestinians a prize… of a Palestinian state which doesn’t even recognise the Jewish state,” he said.

We won’t put up with this.

The attack

The two men who carried out today’s early morning attack were armed with a gun and meat cleavers.

They killed three US and one British citizen before being shot dead themselves, in what was the bloodiest attack in the city in years.

All four victims were Israelis with dual nationality.

Their names were confirmed as Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Avraham Goldberg.

The assailants were identified by family members as Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, cousins from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber.

Both were in their 20s.

The funerals of the men killed were held in Jerusalem today, with thousands attending.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Reaction

Here at home, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan condemned the attacks.

“The desecration of a place of worship, in a city held holy by so many people of different faiths around the world, is an unacceptable attack on the freedom of worship,” he said in a statement.

The violence of recent months in Jerusalem has underlined the importance of respect for all religions and the need to ensure a sustainable political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I reiterate my call for an urgent return to the negotiations and call on all parties to take steps towards the achievement of the two-State framework and the ending of the occupation of the Palestinian territories.”

- © AFP, 2014, additional reporting by Nicky Ryan and Daragh Brophy.

Read: One killed in knife attack as unrest continues across Israel and West Bank >

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