At least four people have been killed after two Palestinians attacked worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed revenge.
Two Palestinians armed with a gun and other weapons stormed the packed synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood in the west of Jerusalem on Tuesday, where they attacked worshippers during morning prayers.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Associated Press that police rushed to the scence after receiving emergency phone calls reporting the attack. As well as the four people killed, six people were also injured, including two police officers, was one reported to be in a critical condition in hospital.
Rosenfeld later confirmed that three of the four worshippers were dual Israeli-US nationals, while the fourth held both Israeli and British citizenship.
The attack is the worst in Jerusalem in years and police have described it as a terrorist act and identified the assailants as two cousins from east Jerusalem.
The armed wing of the militant group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine released a statement saying the two cousins were its members but did not say whether they had been instructed to carry out the attack.
It also praised them as "heroic comrades" and "martyrs, " and called for an escalation of "confrontations with (Israeli) occupiers and settlers who have no place on our land."
Israel vows revenge
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to "respond harshly," describing the attack as the "cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers."
Netanyahu blamed the attack on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"This is the direct result of the incitement being led by [Islamist militant group] Hamas and Abu Mazen (Abbas), incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring," Netanyahu said.
However, in a statement released by his office, the attack was also condemned by Abbas.
"The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in one of their places of prayer in West Jerusalem and condemns the killing of civilians, no matter who is doing it," the statement said.
The attack has also been widely condemned by politicians from beyond the region, including by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was in the region for talks just a few days ago.
The European Union's foreign policy coordinator, Federica Mogherini, denounced the "attack on Jewish worshippers in one of their places of prayer in West Jerusalem," adding that it was "condemnable by all means."
Incidents of violence in Jerusalem, other parts of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has surged in the past month, fuelled in part by a dispute over a Jerusalem holy site referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
pfd/ksb (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)