Israel Blames Abbas, Promises Harsh Response to Synagogue Terror Attack
Israeli political leaders are blaming Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for inciting Tuesday’s bloody terrorist attack inside a Jerusalem synagogue that killed four people and injured eight others. The two terrorists, who carried axes and a gun, also were killed in a shootout with police.
The attack took place in a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood. All four murder victims were rabbis. Three of them, Aryeh Kopinsky, Moshe Twersky, and Calman Levine, were dual American-Israeli citizens. The fourth, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, was a British-Israeli citizen. Twersky’s grandfather is an iconic figure in modern Orthodox Judaism.
“This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen (Abbas), incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman echoed that, saying “the responsibility rests entirely with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has deliberately turned the conflict into a religious conflict between Jews and Muslims and the systematic incitement he leads against Jews, including his statement that impure Jews may not enter the Temple Mount, provides the guidance for such heinous attacks.”
Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, on the other hand, reportedly told Knesset members in a classified meeting that he did not agree with those assessments.
A PIJ statement called the attack “a natural response to the crimes of the occupier.” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said it was in revenge for the death of a Palestinian found hanged in a bus Sunday night. An autopsy authenticated by both sides determined it was a suicide.
“Hamas calls for more operations like it,” Abu Zuhri said.
Another Hamas spokesman, Mushir al-Masri, posted a graphic cartoon on Facebook glorifying the attack on Jews as they worshipped.
The attack triggered celebrations in Gaza, with people hailing the killers as martyrs, holding up axes, and passing out sweets.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyahu Tuesday to offer condolences over the attack, describing it as an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality” and called on the Palestinian leadership to condemn it “in the most powerful terms.”
Kerry also reportedly cited Palestinian incitement, including recent calls for “days of rage” and said Palestinian leaders need to tamp down their rhetoric.
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.