Israel vows harsh response to synagogue attack

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Israel vows harsh response to synagogue attack
Israeli border police officers stand guard as a house is demolished in the Wesk Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Rehavam, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the land the houses were built on belong to Palestinians. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 19: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Relatives of Palestinian attackers who killed two Isrealis last month are seen at their demolished house on November 19, 2014 in Jerusalem, Isreal. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 19: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Relatives of Palestinian attackers who killed two Isrealis last month are seen at their demolished house on November 19, 2014 in Jerusalem, Isreal. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
JERUSALEM NOVEMBER 19: A car is damaged as Israeli forces demolishes the home of Palestinian AbdelRahman al-Shaludi, blamed for killing two Israelis in a deadly vehicular attack last month, in Silwan neighborhood, east Jerusalem on November 19, 2014. (Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
File - In this Nov. 19, 2014 file photo Palestinians hang national flag inside the demolished apartment of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi in east Jerusalem on. Israeli authorities demolished the apartment as a punitive measure after al-Shaludi's deadly attack with his car on a Jerusalem train station last month which left two people dead. Israel says it is resuming demolitions because it needs more tools to stop a recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Jews. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean, File)
File - In this Nov. 18, 2014 file photos Israeli police stand guard outside the home of cousins Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal in east Jerusalem. The Abu Jamal cousins stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers with meat cleavers and a gun during morning prayers killing four people and a policeman. The family received a notice from the Israeli authorities that their house will be razed. Israel says it is resuming demolitions because it needs more tools to stop a recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Jews. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean, File)
JERUSALEM NOVEMBER 19: Relatives of Palestinian AbdelRahman al-Shaludi, blamed for killing two Israelis in a deadly vehicular attack last month, inspect the their family home after it was destroyed by Israeli forces in Silwan neighborhood, east Jerusalem on November 19, 2014. (Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
File - In this Nov. 18, 2014 file photo, paramedics carry a body out of a synagogue after an attack in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on the western edge of Jerusalem, Tuesday. Two Palestinian cousins stormed the Jerusalem synagogue attacking worshippers with meat cleavers and a gun during morning prayers and killing four people and a policeman. Israel says it is resuming demolitions because it needs more tools to stop a recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Jews. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean, File)
JERUSALEM NOVEMBER 19: Nibraz al-Shaludi (14), sister of Palestinian AbdelRahman al-Shaludi blamed for killing two Israelis in a deadly vehicular attack last month, inspects the damage at her family home after it was destroyed by Israeli forces in Silwan neighborhood, east Jerusalem on November 19, 2014. (Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM NOVEMBER 19: A Palestinian girl looks at the damaged home of Palestinian AbdelRahman al-Shaludi, blamed for killing two Israelis in a deadly vehicular attack last month, after it was destroyed by Israeli forces in Silwan neighborhood, east Jerusalem on November 19, 2014. (Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM NOVEMBER 19: A car is damaged as Israeli forces demolishes the home of Palestinian AbdelRahman al-Shaludi, blamed for killing two Israelis in a deadly vehicular attack last month, in Silwan neighborhood, east Jerusalem on November 19, 2014. (Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM NOVEMBER 19: Relatives of Palestinian AbdelRahman al-Shaludi, blamed for killing two Israelis in a deadly vehicular attack last month, inspect the their family home after it was destroyed by Israeli forces in Silwan neighborhood, east Jerusalem on November 19, 2014. (Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Masked Palestinians hold knifes and axes as they celebrate an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue while standing in front of a poster of the attackers,Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, during a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years. AFP PHOTO/ SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
Two youths look at bullet holes and forensic evidence inside a synagogue after an attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Two Palestinians stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers praying inside with knives, axes and guns, and killing four people before they were killed in a shootout with police, officials said. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews carry the body of Mosheh Twersky during his funeral in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Two Palestinian cousins armed with meat cleavers and a gun stormed a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers Tuesday, killing Twersky and three others n the city's bloodiest attack in years. Police killed the attackers in a shootout. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) (EDITOR'S NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT) This handout image supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), shows a view of the scene of a shooting at a Synagogue where a suspected Palestinian attack took place on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Four Israelis have been killed and several others wounded in a terror attack this morning in a synagogue in the western Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. Two Palestinian assailants were killed at the scene by police. (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO via Getty Images)
In memory of Rabbi Twersky HY'D, beloved rebbi/teacher/mentor to thousands at Toras Moshe ("To-Mo"). http://t.co/fADVpmGirE
Rabbi Moshe Twersky Laid To Rest - http://t.co/rk9CXR4nj9 http://t.co/s74reo90o0
Mourners attend funeral of Rabbi Moshe Twersky, killed in #Jerusalem terror attack today http://t.co/8ZjHJYczzd http://t.co/tKDUewbIZg
Liverpool rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg killed in Jerusalem terror attack caught on film http://t.co/Tj1PnShFhI http://t.co/3YWRK8KPUQ
This frame grab from an APTN video shows the scene in Jersualem where two Palestinians stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, attacking worshippers praying inside with knives, axes and guns, and killing four. Police killed the attackers in a shootout. (AP Photo/APTN)
Israeli security forces secure the scene on November 18, 2014, after two Palestinians attacked a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem. The attack, that killed four Israelis, began shortly before 7am (0500 GMT) as worshippers were attending morning prayers. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli security forces secure the scene after two Palestinians attacked a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. The attack, that killed four Israelis, began shortly before 7am (0500 GMT) as worshippers were attending morning prayers. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Ultra-orthodox Jews watch the scene on November 18, 2014, after two Palestinians attacked a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem. The attack, that killed four Israelis, began shortly before 7am (0500 GMT) as worshippers were attending morning prayers. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
GRAPHIC CONTENT Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers evacuate the body of one of two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. The attack, that killed four Israelis, began shortly before 7am (0500 GMT) as worshippers were attending morning prayers. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli security forces stand next to the body of one of two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. The attack, that killed four Israelis, began shortly before 7am (0500 GMT) as worshippers were attending morning prayers. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of a Palestinian assailant who was shot dead while attacking a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and axes attacked a Jerusalem synagogue killing four Israelis, police said. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of one of the two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. The attack, that killed four Israelis, began shortly before 7am (0500 GMT) as worshippers were attending morning prayers. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
A bullet hole and forensic evidence are seen in side the Synagogue at the site of an attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Two Palestinians stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers praying inside with knives, axes and guns, and killing four people before they were killed in a shootout with police, officials said. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli police officer escorts an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man near the scene of a shooting attack in a Synagogue in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Two Palestinians stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers praying inside with knives, axes and guns, and killing four people before they were killed in a shootout with police, officials said. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Holy books, blood stains and forensic evidence remain inside the Synagogue that came under attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Two Palestinians stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers praying inside with knives, axes and guns, and killing four people before they were killed in a shootout with police, officials said.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israeli border policewomen stand near the scene of a shooting attack in a Synagogue in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Two Palestinians stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers praying inside with knives, axes and guns, and killing four people before they were killed in a shootout with police, officials said. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A bullet hole and forensic evidence remain inside the Synagogue after an attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Two Palestinians stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers praying inside with knives, axes and guns, and killing four people before they were killed in a shootout with police, officials said. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian woman throws sweets as she celebrates an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue while standing near a poster of the attackers,Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, during a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years. AFP PHOTO/ SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
Masked Palestinians hold knifes and axes as they celebrate an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue during a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years. AFP PHOTO/ SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) supporter distributes sweets as he celebrates an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
A masked Palestinian holds a knife as he celebrates an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue while standing next to a poster of the attackers,Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, during a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years. AFP PHOTO/ SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israli security member stands outside a synagogue that was attacked by two Palestinians earlier in the morning in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years. AFP PHOTO/ JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ultra-orthodox Jewish man walks past synagogue, with bullet holes in the window, that was attacked by two Palestinians earlier in the morning in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead in the bloodiest attack in the city in years. AFP PHOTO/ JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 18: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) Israeli police crime scene investigators stand near bodies of suspected attackers outside a synagogue on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Four Israelis have been killed and several others wounded in a terror attack this morning in a synagogue in the western Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. Two Palestinian assailants were killed at the scene by police. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 18: Israeli emergency personnel clean the site outside a synagogue on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Four Israelis have been killed and several others wounded in a terror attack this morning in a synagogue in the western Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. Two Palestinian assailants were killed at the scene by police. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 18: Israeli orthodox examines car outside a synagogue on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Four Israelis have been killed and several others wounded in a terror attack this morning in a synagogue in the western Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. Two Palestinian assailants were killed at the scene by police.(Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 18: Israeli emergency personnel clean the site outside a synagogue on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Four Israelis have been killed and several others wounded in a terror attack this morning in a synagogue in the western Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. Two Palestinian assailants were killed at the scene by police. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
An Israeli emergency services member cleans the sidewalk at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a gun and axes burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead, in the deadliest attack in the city in years.AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel vowed harsh retaliation Tuesday for a Palestinian attack that left four rabbis hacked or shot to death on the blood-smeared floor of a synagogue in Jerusalem, a major escalation of already-high tensions after weeks of religious violence.

The attack during morning prayers in the west Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof was carried out by two Palestinian cousins wielding meat cleavers, knives and a handgun. They were shot to death by police after the deadliest assault in the holy city since 2008.

Three of the dead were born in the United States and the fourth was born in England, although all held dual Israeli citizenship. Six others were wounded, including two police officers.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, the first time he has done so in the wave of deadly violence against Israelis. But he also called for an end to Israeli "provocations" surrounding Jerusalem's shrines that are sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

President Barack Obama called the attack "horrific" and without justification, urging cooperation from both sides to ease tensions and adding that too many Israelis and Palestinians have died in recent months,

Tuesday's attack, however, appeared to mark a turning point, with the gruesome scene in a house of worship shocking a nation long accustomed to violence.

The government released a photo of a bloody meat cleaver it said came from the crime scene. Government video showed blood-soaked prayer books and prayer shawls on the floor of the synagogue. A pair of glasses lay under a table dripping in blood, and thick streaks of blood lined the floor.

"I saw people lying on the floor, blood everywhere," said Yosef Posternak, who was at the synagogue in the quiet neighborhood that has a large community of English-speaking immigrants.

"People were trying to fight with (the attackers) but they didn't have much of a chance," Posternak told Israel Radio.

In one of Israel's first acts of retaliation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the demolitions of the homes of the attackers. But halting further violence could prove to be a tough challenge as police confront a new threat: Lightly armed assailants from annexed east Jerusalem who hold residency rights that allow them to move freely throughout the country.

Netanyahu condemned the deaths of "four innocent and pure Jews." In a nationally televised address, he accused Abbas of inciting the recent violence and said the Palestinian leader's condemnation of the attack was insufficient.

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack. In Gaza, dozens celebrated in the streets, with some offering trays full of candy.

The U.S.-born victims were identified as Moshe Twersky, 59, Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, and Kalman Levine, 55. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the British man was Avraham Goldberg, 68, who immigrated to Israel in 1993.

It described all four men as "rabbis," an honorific title in the ultra-Orthodox world given to men who are considered pious and learned. Twersky, a native of Boston, was the head of the Toras Moshe Yeshiva, a seminary for English-speaking students. He was the son of Rabbi Isador Twersky, founder of Harvard University's Center for Jewish Studies, and a grandson Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, a luminary in the world of modern Orthodox Jewry.

All four lived on the same street. Thousands of people attended a joint funeral for Kupinsky, Levine and Goldberg before sundown- held outside the synagogue where they were killed.

In recent weeks, Jerusalem has seen its worst sustained bout of violence since a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. Palestinian assailants have carried out a pair of deadly attacks by ramming their cars into crowded train stations, while a gunman shot and seriously wounded a Jewish activist who has campaigned for greater access to the holy site.

The hilltop compound, in Jerusalem's Old City, has been at the heart of the tensions. It is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the site of the ancient Hebrew temples. For Muslims, it is the Noble Sanctuary, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the iconic gold-topped Dome of the Rock.

Under a longstanding arrangement, Jews are permitted to visit but not to pray. A growing number of visits by Jewish worshippers, many who seek the right to pray there, has drawn Muslim accusations that Israel is secretly trying to take over the site and sparked violent clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli police.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he will not change that arrangement, but the violence has spread beyond Jerusalem, with deadly stabbings in Tel Aviv and the West Bank last week, while the fatal shooting of a young Arab protester in northern Israel by police - apparently as he was walking away from an officer - has added to the tensions.

Late Tuesday, several hundred Jewish youths marched through downtown Jerusalem, blocking traffic and chanting, "Death to Arabs." Police reported at least 10 arrests.

Police identified the synagogue attackers as Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal, cousins from the Jabal Mukaber neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the assailants were killed in a shootout with police that left one officer critically wounded. He said police were still trying to determine how the men had chosen their target.

Mohammed Zahaikeh, a social activist in Jabal Mukaber, said he did not know whether the cousins were politically active. He said Ghassan was 27, married with two young children and worked in a clothing store. Oday, 21, was not married and was an interior decorator. He said both men were quiet, and residents were surprised by the attack.

Clashes later broke out outside the assailants' home, where dozens of police officers had converged. Residents hurled stones at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Residents said 14 members of the Abu Jamal family were arrested.

The violence has created a special security challenge for Israel. Where Palestinian violence has traditionally been carried out by organized militant groups based in the West Bank or Gaza, most of the recent attacks have been done by perpetrators from east Jerusalem acting on their own.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the area, while the Palestinians claim it as their capital. Although the annexation is not internationally recognized, the more than 200,000 Arab residents of east Jerusalem have Israeli residency rights that allow them to move freely throughout the country. In contrast, West Bank residents and Gazans need Israeli permission to enter.

"There is no solution in the world of intelligence to the problem of a lone wolf who decides in the morning to launch an attack in the afternoon," said Cabinet Minister Yaakov Peri, a former director of the Shin Bet internal security agency.

He said the "only solution is very strong deterrence," such as swiftly demolishing the homes of attackers.

Netanyahu has vowed to revive the policy of home demolitions, which Israel halted in 2005 after determining it wasn't an effective deterrent. Israeli officials have reversed their opinion, and Netanyahu has ordered stepped-up demolitions.

The Israeli leader flew to Jordan last week for talks with King Abdullah II, who holds custodial rights over the Jerusalem mosque compound.

The two men agreed to take steps to lower tensions at the holy site. But on Monday, rumors spread that a Palestinian bus driver had been killed by Jewish assailants. Although forensics experts ruled the death a suicide, Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli police.

Israeli media reported Tuesday that Yoram Cohen, the current Shin Bet head, told lawmakers in a closed meeting that Abbas was not interested in inciting Palestinians to use violence against Israelis.

Cohen tied his assertion to his belief that widespread Palestinian violence against Israelis would undermine Abbas's political standing, the reports said.

The attack was the deadliest in Jerusalem since a Palestinian assailant killed eight students at a Jewish seminary in March 2008.

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