Two Palestinian cousins stormed a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, attacking worshippers with meat cleavers and a gun during morning prayers and killing four people before they were shot dead by police.

The attack, the deadliest in Jerusalem in six years, ratcheted up fears of sustained violence in the city, which is already on edge amid soaring tensions over its most contested holy site.

Prime Minister Benj’amin Netanyahu vowed to “respond harshly,” describing the attack as a “cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he spoke to Netanyahu after the assault and denounced it as an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, the first time he has done so since a recent spike in deadly violence against Israelis. He also called for an end to Israeli “provocations” surrounding the sacred site.

In a statement, Abbas’ office said he “condemns the killing of the worshippers in a synagogue in west Jerusalem.” The statement called for an end to the “invasion” of the mosque at the holy site and a halt to “incitement” by Israeli government ministers.

The attack was the deadliest in Jerusalem since a Palestinian assailant killed eight students at a Jewish seminar on March 6, 2008.

Fatal Attack on Synagogue on JerusalemPlay videoFatal Attack on Synagogue on Jerusalem
Israeli police called the incident a terrorist attack and said the two Palestinian assailants were cousins from east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians as their capital.

Weeks of unrest have been focused around a contested holy site in the Old City, located in east Jerusalem.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small militant group, said the cousins were among its members. It did not specify whether the group instructed the cousins to carry out the attack.

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack. In Gaza, dozens took to the streets to celebrate. Some people held trays full of sweets and distributed them to drivers and passersby. In the southern town of Rafah, women and schoolchildren waved green Hamas flags and a loudspeaker praised the attack.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said six people were also wounded in the attack, including two police officers. Four of the wounded were reported in serious condition.

source: yahoo news