Two Palestinians armed with knives, axes, and guns stormed a Jerusalem synagogue today, killing four people before dying in a shootout with police, officials say. The dead included three dual US-Israeli citizens and one British-Israeli citizen, all of them rabbis, reports CNN. Israeli police called the incident a terrorist attack and said the two Palestinian assailants were cousins from east Jerusalem. Because of the involvement of Americans, the FBI will investigate. The attack was the deadliest in Jerusalem in years and is bound to ratchet up fears of sustained violence in the city, already on edge amid soaring tensions over a contested holy site.
"I tried to escape. The man with the knife approached me. There was a chair and table between us ... my prayer shawl got caught. I left it there and escaped," a man who was praying at the synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood at the time of the attack told reporters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel will "respond harshly" to the attack, describing it as a "cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, but he also called for an end to Israeli "provocations" surrounding the sacred site. A police spokesman says six people were also wounded, including two police officers; police are searching the area for other suspects, the spokesman says.