Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

(CBS News) AP, Jerusalem – Israel’s prime minister has ordered authorities to destroy the homes of the Palestinian terrorists who killed five people who were praying in a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday.

Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu also ordered the demolition of homes of Palestinians involved in other recent deadly attacks killing Jewish civilians.

Netanyahu announced the directive Tuesday after a meeting with top security officials. He did not say when the demolitions would take place.

Israel halted its…practice of home demolitions in 2005 after officials determined it was not an effective deterrent. But they have…recently…renewed the tactic in certain cases.

At a televised news conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel is “in the midst of a terrorist assault focused on Jerusalem.”

In his response to the attacks, Netanyahu accused Hamas and other Palestinian groups of lying about Israel’s intentions in Jerusalem. He called for “outrage” on the part of world leaders as a reaction.

“I want to see condemnation, a deep and uncompromising condemnation of these murders of Israelis, of Jews,” he said.

synogogue-attack-jerusalemPolice spokeswoman Luba Samri identified the assailants as cousins Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal from the Jabal Mukaber neighborhood in east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 but still claimed by the Palestinians as their capital.

Police said the murdered worshippers were three Americans and a Briton, and that all held dual Israeli citizenship. The attack occurred in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood that has a large population of English-speaking immigrants.


An Ultra-Orthodox man bows his head inside the synagogue.

The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem identified the Americans as Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine and Mosheh Twersky.

Twersky, the grandson of a renowned rabbi from Boston, Joseph Soloveichik, was the head of Yeshivas Toras Moshe, a religious seminary for English-speaking students. Rabbi Isadore Twersky was a founding director of Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies and a scholar of Jewish history.

Israeli authorities identified the British man as Avraham Goldberg.

President Obama condemned the attack, but urged for calm on all sides. He said, “Too many Israelis have died. Too many Palestinians have died. And at this difficult time I think it’s important for both Palestinians and Israelis to try to work together to lower tensions and to reject violence.”


Palestinian supporters of The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group, dance while waving flags, after they heard the news of the shooting

Referring to those responsible for the attacks, the president said they “represent the kind of extremism that threatens to bring all of the Middle East into the kind of spiral from which it’s very difficult to emerge.”

The FBI routinely investigates attacks abroad in which U.S. citizens are killed and is expected to be involved in this investigation as well. …

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 by Palestinians against Israelis. He also called for an end to Israeli “provocations” surrounding a sacred shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims.

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

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small terrorist group, said the cousins were among its members, though it did not say whether it had instructed them 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, with some offering trays full of candy.

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

The Jerusalem neighborhood where the attack took place is far removed from the flashpoints in this contested city.

This newest assault amid a wave of other attacks engulfing Jerusalem, however, has left those living in Har Nof, home to 20,000 people, worrying about their personal security.

“Every one, everywhere is in danger,” said Yitzhak Heshing, who was injured in Tuesday’s attack. “Not just in Jerusalem but everywhere. I think that what is happening is a very crazy situation.” …

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NOTE: Read the “Background” below and watch the news report under “Resources” before answering the questions.

1. How is the Israeli government responding to the latest Palestinian terrorist attack on civilians?

2. What did Prime Minister Netanyahu accuse Hamas and other Palestinian groups of doing to incite Palestinians to commit terrorist attacks? Be specific. (What did he say?)

3. a) What does Prime Minister Netanyahu call on world leaders to do?
b) What did he call on Israelis to do?

4. a) How did President Obama react to this latest attack on Jewish civilians?
b) What do you think of his response? too strong, not strong enough…? Explain your answer.

5. Why will the FBI participate in the investigation of this attack?

6. How did Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas respond to the murders?

7. Hamas has been regarded as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip (its leaders received a majority of votes from Palestinians). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is the President of the West Bank. How do you view Hamas and Palestinians response to the murders of Jewish people in a synagogue as something to rejoice over? (Did you know Reuters filmed Palestinians celebrating after the 9/11 attacks also?)

8. What do you think of Israel’s decision to demolish the terrorists’ homes? Is this just revenge? Is it a fit punishment?

9. Why is it wrong to equate the murderous attacks by Palestinians with the Israeli military’s defense of its citizens?


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Tuesday night in response to the shocking terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood that morning.

“We are at the height of a terror campaign focused on Jerusalem. In the middle of shacharit (morning) prayers four innocent and pure Jews were murdered. We send condolences to the families and wishes of recovery to the wounded, among them heroic police officers who prevented a heavy tragedy.”

Relating to the terrorists, Netanyahu said “The human animals who perpetrated this slaughter were full of hatred and incitement, deep hatred and terrible incitement against the Jewish People and its state.

“Hamas, the Islamic Movement and the Palestinian Authority are disseminating countless lies and falsehoods against the State of Israel. They are saying that the Jews are contaminating the Temple Mount. They are saying that we are planning to destroy the Holy Places, that we intend to change the order of prayer there – this is all lies. These lies have already claimed a very heavy price.”

Five died in the attack. Eight others were wounded, four critically.

Referring to Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu noted his office may have condemned the attack:

“but that isn’t enough, because at the end of the same sentence he connected the event to imaginary acts that have no basis that he claims Israel is conducting on the Temple Mount.”

“I call on all leaders of the countries of the civilized world: I want to see an uncompromising condemnation of these murders of Israelis and Jews,” said Netanyahu.

Noting on Spain’s vote Tuesday to recognize the PA as a state, Netanyahu added “unfortunately there are those who in these days want to give the Palestinians a prize by recognizing a Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu stated that he had given orders to destroy the houses of the terrorists, although the houses of several terrorists who committed attacks in recent weeks remain standing despite the demolition orders against them.

In conclusion, Netanyahu called on Israeli citizens to stay alert and:

“respect the law. No one can take the law into their hands, even if the spirit rages and the blood boils. We are in a fight for Jerusalem our eternal capital; in this fight we must unify forces for Jerusalem, and for the security of Israeli citizens. What is needed now is national unity.”

(from a news report at

More from CBS News:

Perched on a verdant hill in Jerusalem’s far west, Har Nof is a collection of modern-looking concrete buildings overlooking two of the region’s trendiest suburbs and the main highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Most of its residents are ultra-Orthodox Jews, many of them immigrants from North America and western Europe. Leaders of the Shas Party – founded by religious Jews with Middle Eastern and North African backgrounds and closely identified with a string of nationalistic Israeli governments – also call it home.

The attack comes amid spiking tensions in Jerusalem, which has seen a spate of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis. At least six people have been killed (one was a baby) in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Tel Aviv in recent weeks, prior to Tuesday’s casualties.

On Monday, several dozen Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in east Jerusalem after rumors surfaced that a Palestinian man had been hanged by Jewish assailants. Police denied the rumors, saying forensic experts determined the death was a suicide.

Late Tuesday, police said they were investigating a Palestinians’ claim that he was stabbed in the leg by three Jewish assailants in downtown Jerusalem. The youth was taken to a hospital.

Jerusalem residents have already been fearful of what appeared to be lone wolf attacks using cars or knives against pedestrians. But Tuesday’s early morning attack on a synagogue harkened back to the gruesome attacks during the Palestinian uprising of the last decade.

Israel’s police chief said Tuesday’s attack was likely not organized by militant groups, similar to other recent incidents, making it more difficult for security forces to prevent the violence.

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