Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Death Toll Rises In Har Nof Synagogue Terror Attack

Death Toll Rises To Five In Har Nof Synagogue Attack

A fifth victim of Tuesday’s Jerusalem synagogue terror attack, Druze policeman Zidan Saif, died of his wounds late Tuesday, having been shot in the gunfight that ended the Har Nof synagogue assault. The four Jewish victims were laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon. Condemnation over the attack, in which the two terrorists used a gun, ax and meat cleaver to attack worshipers before the police arrived and killed them, poured in from Israeli and international leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But Abbas was blamed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for inciting terrorism against Israel. Late Tuesday, Netanyahu demanded global denunciation of Palestinian terrorism and incitement, vowed that Israel would “settle scores” with the terrorists, and issued a call for national unity. The Times of Israel is liveblogging continuing developments overnight and into Wednesday. Tuesday’s liveblog is here.

In the wake of Tuesday’s deadly attack in Jerusalem, synagogues throughout Israel have been instructed to place security guards at their entrances.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich also announced today that his office will ease requirements for gun licenses, to allow civilians to protect themselves from attack.

Police are continuing their arrests of suspects connected to Friday’s violent clash in the northern Druze-Muslim village of Abu Snan, which left 26 people injured, Israel Radio reports.
Officials say they have detained six people today from nearby villages on suspicion of throwing rocks in the village over the weekend. They add that of the four other suspects detained on Monday, three have been released to their homes and have been banned from visiting Abu Snan in the coming month.
The conflict between the Druze and Muslim communities of the village erupted over the weekend, reportedly following a stabbing attack between two high school students, one Muslim and one Druze, after the two exchanged insults online.

Tuesday morning saw yet another dangerous new escalation after weeks of violence in Jerusalem with a synagogue attack that killed four people in the Har Nof neighborhood.

This was no case of “spontaneous terrorism,” as witnessed in recent car and knife attacks. In this case, the two terrorists, Uday Abu Jamal and Ghassan Abu Jamal, cousins from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, were apparently familiar with the synagogue where they staged their attack. They may have worked in the area; plainly, they gathered intelligence on it prior to the attack.

The relatively high body count also sets Tuesday’s attack apart from the recent attacks — which include the attempted murder of Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick — and creates more potential for escalation. An indiscriminate massacre of worshipers in a synagogue, wrapped in their prayer shawls, strikes at the most basic symbols of the Jewish people, and could result in acts of revenge against Palestinians.

The latest horror underlines that even though while it sometimes seems as if calm has returned to Jerusalem, the silence is repeatedly broken by another incident or another attack within days. Jerusalem refuses to return to normal. The previous relative stability of the city has been shaken — shattered — since the summer, with the murder in the capital of Palestinian teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir (in the wake of the murders of the three Jewish teens in the West Bank), Operation Protective Edge, and the friction and conflict surrounding the Temple Mount.

Tellingly, however, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also criticized Abbas’s recent behavior, and US Secretary of State John Kerry protested Palestinian calls including from Abbas’s Fatah, for “days of rage.” And the fact is that while Abbas put out a statement condemning the attack, the right-wingers are correct about one thing: Abbas cannot continue to claim he is working to prevent attacks when his media outlets are full of incitement and hatred against Israel and the Jews and what amounts to praise for terrorism.

The prime beneficiaries of the grim new reality are the terror groups, led by Hamas. The Islamist terror organization is doing everything it can to inflame tensions and encourage more attacks. Its spokespeople praised the murderers in Tuesday’s attack, just as they did the previous killers. Joining Hamas are other terror groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the latter of which claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s killings.
Hamas will continue to encourage attacks as long as it knows the Israeli government wants to avoid another major confrontation with it. And Netanyahu’s government does indeed want to avoid such a confrontation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the latest wave of unrest and terrorism, which culminated Tuesday morning in a deadly killing spree at a Jerusalem synagogue, can be divided into three subcategories — operational, political, and diplomatic.

On the ground, he ordered an increase of security forces in the streets and instructed authorities to destroy the homes of terrorists. He also initiated legislative initiatives, such as changing the law so as to allow the interior minister to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who call for the destruction of the state.

On the diplomatic front, the prime minister’s efforts focused on lamenting Palestinian incitement, crying foul over continuous anti-Israeli agitation, especially from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Atypically, Netanyahu has been talking more about incitement than about Iran in recent speeches and meetings with world leaders.

During brief comments before his recent meeting with the European Union’s new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, for instance, he used the word “incitement” four times. During an address to the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly last Wednesday, he uttered it eight times.
Netanyahu has good reasons for doing so. Earlier this month, Abbas called on Palestinians to prevent Jews from entering Jerusalem’s Temple Mount “by any means possible.” A few days later, he warned against extremist Jews “contaminating” the Temple Mount compound. He also praised Rabbi Yehudah Glick’s attempted assassin as “a martyr defending the rights of our people and its holy places.”
There can be no denying that these comments, plus those made by other senior officials in the PA and his Fatah movement, did their part to increase the tensions, inspiring many angry Palestinians to take out their frustration in violent ways.

So can Abbas be held responsible for Tuesday’s cruel terror attack by having rhetorically fertilized the ground for it? (He quickly condemned it, at the Americans’ explicit request.)
The Israeli government’s answer was an unequivocal yes. “This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen [Abbas], incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring,” Netanyahu said on Thursday morning, minutes after the attack occurred. Later, at an evening press conference, he went even further, asserting that incitement lies at the very core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“There is daily, even hourly, incitement on the streets of the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “There, not only do the most reprehensible murderers become the heroes of Palestinian culture, but there is unending, constant incitement against the very existence of the State of Israel, against the security of Israel’s citizens, in schools, the media, mosques, everywhere, and this is the root of the conflict: The refusal to recognize — and educate for — the existence of the state of the Jews.”
The blame for the attack “rests entirely” with Abbas, agreed Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. “The systematic incitement he leads against Jews, including his statement that impure Jews may not enter the Temple Mount, provides the guidance for such heinous attacks.” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett made similar statements.

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