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Palestinians celebrate 'lone wolf' massacre at synagogue

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Israeli emergency personnel carry the body of a victim from the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, 2014. Two suspected Palestinian men armed with axes and knives killed four people in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday before being shot dead by police, Israeli police and emergency services said, the deadliest such attack in the city in years. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Israeli emergency personnel carry the body of a victim from the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, 2014. Two suspected Palestinian men armed with axes and knives killed four people in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday before being shot dead by police, Israeli police and emergency services said, the deadliest such attack in the city in years. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

REUTERS

Israelis attend the funerals of Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine and Avraham Goldberg, three of the people killed in an attack on a synagogue (AP)

Israelis attend the funerals of Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine and Avraham Goldberg, three of the people killed in an attack on a synagogue (AP)

A woman holds a sign during a demonstration against a deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, across the street from the Palestine Mission to the United Nations in New York. Two Palestinian men armed with meat cleavers and a gun entered the synagogue in a quiet ultra-Orthodox neighborhood during morning prayers on Tuesday and attacked around 25 worshippers, killing four and wounding eight, several seriously. Three of the victims held dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

A woman holds a sign during a demonstration against a deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, across the street from the Palestine Mission to the United Nations in New York. Two Palestinian men armed with meat cleavers and a gun entered the synagogue in a quiet ultra-Orthodox neighborhood during morning prayers on Tuesday and attacked around 25 worshippers, killing four and wounding eight, several seriously. Three of the victims held dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

REUTERS

Rabbi Avi Weiss (C) bypasses a barricade to cross the street to place a sign on the door of the Palestine Mission to the United Nations in New York, as demonstrators rally over a deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, November 18, 2014. Two Palestinian men armed with meat cleavers and a gun entered the synagogue in a quiet ultra-Orthodox neighborhood during morning prayers on Tuesday and attacked around 25 worshippers, killing four and wounding eight, several seriously. Three of the victims held dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Rabbi Avi Weiss (C) bypasses a barricade to cross the street to place a sign on the door of the Palestine Mission to the United Nations in New York, as demonstrators rally over a deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, November 18, 2014. Two Palestinian men armed with meat cleavers and a gun entered the synagogue in a quiet ultra-Orthodox neighborhood during morning prayers on Tuesday and attacked around 25 worshippers, killing four and wounding eight, several seriously. Three of the victims held dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

REUTERS

Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, one of the victims in the attack in Jerusalem

Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, one of the victims in the attack in Jerusalem

The bodies of Aryeh Kopinsky (C), Calman Levine (L) and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg lie in vehicles during their funeral near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

The bodies of Aryeh Kopinsky (C), Calman Levine (L) and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg lie in vehicles during their funeral near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

REUTERS

A relative of Ghassan and Udai Abu Jamal, cousins who killed four worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue, holds their pictures at her home in the Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

A relative of Ghassan and Udai Abu Jamal, cousins who killed four worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue, holds their pictures at her home in the Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

REUTERS

Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate with others an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip as a campaign to use low-tech weapons is being waged on social media (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate with others an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip as a campaign to use low-tech weapons is being waged on social media (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

REUTERS

An Israeli police officer scans a Jewish seminary near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, 2014

An Israeli police officer scans a Jewish seminary near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, 2014

REUTERS

Israeli emergency personnel carry the body of a victim from the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, 2014

Israeli emergency personnel carry the body of a victim from the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, 2014

REUTERS

Israeli rescue workers carry a body from the scene of a shooting attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem (AP)

Israeli rescue workers carry a body from the scene of a shooting attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem (AP)

Israeli emergency personnel carry the body of a victim from the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, 2014. Two suspected Palestinian men armed with axes and knives killed four people in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday before being shot dead by police, Israeli police and emergency services said, the deadliest such attack in the city in years. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

The brutal killings of four worshippers - including three Americans - in a Jerusalem synagogue by two Palestinians wielding meat cleavers and a gun appears to be a lone wolf attack, Israel's national police commissioner has said.

The violence was met with celebration from Palestinians, as revelers in the Gazan city of Rafah handed out candy and brandished axes and posters of the suspects in praise of the deadly attack, according to the Jerusalem Post.

National Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino told the newspaper that a preliminary investigation of the attack indicates a grassroots, independent effort

Hamas said the attack was motivated by revenge after a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle earlier in the week, and called for more violence.

But Israeli police believe Youssef al-Ramouni, 32, who was found dead at the start of his bus route on Sunday, committed suicide, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Three of yesterday's victims held dual US-Israeli citizenship and the fourth man was a British-Israeli national.

butcher

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to respond with a "heavy hand" and accused Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of inciting violence in Jerusalem.

Abbas condemned the attack, which took place after weeks of unrest fuelled in part by a dispute over Jerusalem's holiest shrine.

A worshipper at the service in the Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Jewish West Jerusalem said about 25 people were praying when shooting broke out.

"I looked up and saw someone shooting people at point-blank range. Then someone came in with what looked like a butcher's knife and he went wild," Yosef Posternak said.

Photos distributed by Israeli authorities showed a man in a prayer shawl lying dead, a bloodied butcher's cleaver on the floor and prayer books covered in blood.

US president Barack Obama said in a statement: "I strongly condemn today's terrorist attack on worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including US citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more.

"At this difficult time I think it's important for both Palestinians and Israelis to try to work together to lower tensions."

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the two assailants, both from Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, were shot dead by police in a gun battle outside the synagogue. Netanyahu said Israel would demolish their homes.

Israel's ambulance service said at least eight people were seriously wounded.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group said it carried out the attack, which it called a "heroic operation".

The four dead - Twersky (59), Kupinsky (43), Levine (55) and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, a 68-year-old British-Israeli, were all ordained rabbis.

Palestinian radio described the attackers as "martyrs". Palestinian media named the assailants as Ghassan and Udai Abu Jamal, cousins from the Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber, where clashes broke out as Israeli security forces moved in to make arrests.

hnews@herald.ie


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