Obama, Kerry Condemn Act of 'Pure Terror' at Jerusalem Synagogue

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Netanyahu and Obama at the White House.Credit: GPO

"The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence," U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday in response to the attack on worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue earlier in the day.

"I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

"There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians. At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the attack an act of "pure terror."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemns a terror attack in Jerusalem during a press conference in London, Nov. 18, 2014.Credit: AFP

"This simply has no place in human behavior," he told reporters during a visit to London. He also called for Palestinian leaders to condemn the attack.

Kerry called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the attack. During their conversation, the Israeli prime minister told the U.S. secretary that the strike was a direct result of Abbas' incitement, and that it was a despicable murder at a sacred site.

Soon after the attack, Netanyahu said incitement by Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas motivated attacks on Jews. "This is a direct result of the incitement lead by Hamas and Abu Mazen (Abbas), incitement that the international community irresponsibly ignores.

"We will respond with a firm hand to this brutal murder of Jews who went to pray and were scathed by despicable murder."

Netanyahu called a Security Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Bureau, to be held this afternoon.

Hamas praised Tuesday morning' attack, describing it as "a quality development in the confrontation with the Israeli occupation."

"The organization welcomes the terror attack, an appropriate and functional response to the crimes of the occupation," the Gaza-based group added.

Abbas, on the other hand, condemned the attack. "The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it," his office said in a statement to Reuters.

The United Nations' Middle East envoy, Robert Serry, said he was "abhorred by the attack," and added: "There can be no justification whatsoever for these deliberate killings," which he strongly condemns.

"I reiterate the United Nations' urgent call on all sides to do everything they can possibly do to avoid further escalation in the already very tense situation in Jerusalem," he said.

EU ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen also condemned the attack, saying "I am horrified by and utterly condemn the despicable terror attack on worshipers in Jerusalem."

French President Francois Hollande condemned "the heinous terrorist attack carried out this morning in Jerusalem, as well as those people who dared to praise the act." Hollande expressed grave concern over the series of violent incidents in Jerusalem, in Israel and in the West Bank.