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article imagePalestinians kill four in attack on Jerusalem synagogue

By Nathan Salant     Nov 18, 2014 in Crime
Jerusalem - Four Jewish worshippers were killed Tuesday when two Palestinians attacked their Jerusalem synagogue before being fatally shot by Israeli police.
Witnesses described a chaotic, bloody scene as the two attackers burst into the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue on Shimon Agassi St. and attacked worshipers with knives, axes and guns," according to the Associated Press.
"I saw people lying on the floor, blood everywhere," Yosef Posternak told Israel Radio, the AP said.
"People were trying to fight with (the attackers) but they didn't have much of a chance," Posternak said.
There were about two dozen worshippers inside the Lithuanian synagogue at the time of the attack in the ultra-Orthodox West Jerusalem neighborhood of Kol Nof, the AP said.
One of the victims has been identified as Moshe Twersky, 59, head of the English-speaking Yeshiva Toras Moshe in Jerusalem.
The two alleged attackers were identified by Israeli police as Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal.
The attackers were killed in a shootout with Israeli police immediately after the attack.
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Two officers were seriously wounded in the shootout, the AP said, and four civilians also were shot.
The attack was the deadliest in Jerusalem in years but comes at a time of rising tensions over access to the city's most-revered ancient structures, including the Temple Mount, Judaism's most revered site, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most-sacred spot in Islam.
The Islamic holy sites are administered by Jordan under an agreement with Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would "respond harshly" to the synagogue attack, which he called a "cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers," the AP said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attack as "senseless brutality and violence."
Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose most-recent condemnations of Israel have generated considerable outrage, condemned the synagogue attack but accused Israel of "invading" the Al-Aqsa mosque by seeking to allow Jews to pray in the immediate vicinity,. the AP said.
Abbas has accused Israel of trying to take over the mosque, which was built on a site holy to Jews as the location of its biblical temples, and recently threatened religious war over access restrictions imposed by Israel after a shooting.
There were no condemnations coming from the radical Palestinian group Hamas, which controls the West Bank of the Jordan River and fought a disastrous war with Israel this past summer.
Hamas praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it, the AP said.
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