Prayer massacre: Three Americans among four rabbis killed as Palestinian militants storm Jerusalem synagogue

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Prayer massacre: Three Americans among four rabbis killed as Palestinian militants storm Jerusalem synagogue
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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By RYAN GORMAN

Three of the four rabbis killed Tuesday in an Israeli synagogue during a frenzied attack by Palestinian militants are American, authorities said, the other is British.

Rabbis Aryeh Kopinsky, 43; Calman Levine; Moshe Twersky, 59; and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 58, were hacked, stabbed and shot to death around 7:00 a.m. by two unnamed terrorists, according to police. A cop also injured in the assault died early Wednesday morning.

Twersky, a well-known Jewish scholar and the son of a Harvard University lecturer, has already been laid to rest following a massive funeral procession through the holy city.

The first three men are dual U.S.-Israeli citizens and fourth is a dual British-Israeli citizen, authorities told CNN. The FBI is now involved in the murder investigation because U.S. citizens were killed.

Two militants -- identified to the New York Times by relatives as cousins Odai Abed Abu Jamal, 22, and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal, 32 -- stormed the west Jerusalem synagogue wielding knives, axes an a handgun, according to reports.

"They carried out this operation because of the fire in their hearts -- they were under pressures, pressures, pressures and in one ripe moment, the explosion took place," a relative told the Times.

"I say in full mouth, it is a religious war which Netanyahu has started," the relative added. "It will end the way we like."

The cousins' personal intifada ended when they were killed in a shootout with police responding to calls for help from the roughly 30 people in the synagogue at the time of the attack, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Six other people were injured during the attack, including two police officers, and have been rushed to a nearby hospital, police told CNN. The cop later succumbed to his injuries.

"To see Jews wearing tefillin and wrapped in the tallit lying in pools of blood, I wondered if I was imagining scenes from the Holocaust," Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the veteran leader of a religious emergency-response team, told the Times of the ritual straps and prayer shawls worn by the worshipers.

"It was a massacre of Jews at prayer."

Wintesses described the horrific assault that left pools of blood everywhere and shattered the calm of an otherwise ordinary Tuesday.

"I turn around and I see a man with a pistol who starts shooting point blank at people next to him," Rabbi Yosef Pasternak told Israeli radio, according to the Times.

"Immediately after, someone enters with a knife, a butcher-type knife, and also goes on a rampage in all directions," Pasternak recalled, adding he escaped death by hiding under a chair.

Another Rabbi inside the building as the attack unfolded said he and his 13-year-old nephew also hid from the attackers under chairs. Blood spattered on the young boy as he cowered in fear.

"People were in the middle of prayer and people could not respond," said Rabbi Shmuel Pinchas, according to the Times. "There is nowhere to hide as the synagogue is closed on all sides."

Officials immediately condemned the attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the slaughter "the direct result of the incitement" stoked by Palestinian leadership, and called on his military to "respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were eliminated by despicable murderers."

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas also denounced the attacks.

"We condemn the killing of civilians from any side," he said in a statement. "We condemn the killings of worshipers at the synagogue in Jerusalem and condemn acts of violence no matter their source."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier called on the Palestinian government to condemn the attack, which he said was "a pure result of incitement.

"The Palestinian leadership ... must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people's language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path," said Kerry.

Members of Hamas, previously classified by the West as a terror organization but also voted into power during democratic elections in Palestine, praised the attacks as "a normal reaction to the Israeli oppression."

Another Hamas leader, in a Facebook post, hailed the attackers as heroes and called for more assaults in the future.

"The new operation is heroic and a natural reaction to Zionist criminality against our people and our holy places," wrote Mushir al-Masri. "We have the full right to revenge for the blood of our martyrs in all possible means."

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has since taken credit for the brutal attack, but a police spokesperson told the Times that officials are still trying to determine if other parties were also involved.

Unrest over the attacks has led police to tighten their grip over several neighborhoods in the predominantly Muslim areas of eastern Jerusalem, according to BuzzFeed.

Images from Rafah, in Gaza, show heavily armed, masked militants handing out cookies to people celebrating the attack.

Masses of jubilant Palestinians poured into the streets to join in the morbid revelry as posters of the alleged attackers were cheered.

Palestinian radio hailed the cousins as "martyrs," according to the Post, and loudspeakers at mosques cheered the men on.

"Hamas calls for the continuation of revenge operations and stresses that the Israeli occupation bears responsibility for tension in Jerusalem," a Hamas spokesperson told the Post.

The attack came only hours after the Israeli government drew criticism for authorizing the building of a further 200 homes in east Jerusalem.

Kerry said through a spokesperson that he was "deeply concerned" by the decision, and expressed fears it would only further escalate tensions between the two constantly-at-odds countries.

Tuesday's attack was the worst on a synagogue in the country since 2008, it will no doubt only pour gasoline on the raging inferno of mutual Palestinian-Israeli hatred.
Four Israelis Dead After Jerusalem Synagogue 'Terror Attack'
Related links:
Chronology of Israeli-Palestinian violence
Palestinian President Abbas condemns synagogue attack, calls for end to Israeli 'provocations'
John Kerry condemns attack on Jerusalem synagogue
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