Violence after attack on Jerusalem synagogue
- 11/18/2014 (Al Jazeera English)

Fighting has broken out between Israeli police and Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem following an attack on a synagogue in the west of the city in which four Israelis were killed by two Palestinian men.

The attackers, who police said were armed with a gun and axes, were shot dead by police after gaining entrance to the Har Nof Synagogue.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who warned of a "harsh response," has ordered the demolition of the homes of the two Palestinians who carried out the attack.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killings while Hamas, the Palestinian faction that governs the Gaza Strip, said it was "a natural reaction to Israel's practices" against Palestinians.

The assailants have been identified as Odai and Ghasan Abu Jamal, cousins from East Jerusalem.
The two men belong to the Palestinian group known as the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

A statement from the PFLP's armed wing welcomed the attack, but stopped short of taking responsibility for or directly organising it.

Police identified those killed inside the mosque as three Americans and a Briton, who all held dual Israeli citizenship.

The area has been cordoned off by police.

Later on Tuesday, Israeli police confirmed to Al Jazeera that a Palestinian man has been stabbed in the leg in the north of Jerusalem.

Following the synagogue killings, Israeli police entered a predominantly Arab neighbourhood in Jerusalem to make arrests.
Some people threw stones at the police officers, who responded with tear gas.

Describing the confrontations, Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from West Jerusalem, said: "Israeli forces used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters who threw stones at them," he said.

"Palestinian protests have not been that crowded, but the confrontations in both Jerusalem and the West Bank underscore the tensions ongoing for months.

"The situation on the ground is tense, but it is getting very tense politically as well with sharp statements coming from both sides."

Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Dekker, reporting from the synagogue, said funerals were taking place and that of the Israelis who died in the attack had already been buried.

"We are waiting for the other three bodies," she said, adding that Israeli crowds have been gathering around the area.

Israelis at the funeral told our correspondent that they were shocked by the incident.

"One of the first people who reached the scene after the attack defined the scene as horrifying,"Al Jazeera's Dekker said. "Another said Israelis and Palestinians should be segregated, although this might mean paying more for labour."

The Israeli prime minister's office confirmed to Al Jazeera that Netanyahu has ordered the demolition of the homes of the two Palestinians who carried out the attack.

Months of tension

The latest violence came after months of tension between Israelis and Palestinians in the city, which is divided between a largely Arab east and a mostly Jewish west.

Late on Sunday, a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in the vehicle. Israeli police said he killed himself, but his family and colleagues believe he was killed by Jewish settlers.

At least six Israelis have been killed in a spate of attacks over the past few weeks.

Israel raised the security threat across the country following the Tuesday's attack.

John Kerry, US secretary of state, condemned the attack on the synagogue, saying it was an "act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence".

Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, told Al Jazeera: "Everyone expected this to happen. Jerusalem is boiling.

"Yesterday, the Israeli forces demolished the houses of the Palestinians who attacked Israelis but they never punish Israeli attackers. We are expecting more violence."

In recent weeks, Jerusalem has seen a number of confrontations, which have sometimes turned deadly, around the flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque in the eastern side of the city.

Palestinians are angry at what they say are repeated attempts by right-wing Jews to extend their influence at the Muslim-run compound housing the mosque. The compound is also considered by Jews to be a holy site.

Palestinians also complain that Israeli forces impose restrictions on Muslim worshippers trying to pray there.

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