Jerusalem Synagogue Killers Acted of Their Own Accord, Says Uncle

'We didn’t expect two quiet guys like them would do something like this,' said Abu Salah, uncle of Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, who killed four worshipers, and wounded others.

Emil Salman

Abu Salah, uncle of Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, the two terrorists who carried out the attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning that killed four worshipers and wounded a number of others, told Haaretz that his nephews did not belong to any organization and acted of their own accord.

“We were in shock at first,” the uncle said. “We wouldn’t have imagined or expected that these two quiet guys would do such a thing. But there is no doubt that they, like many young people in Jerusalem, were affected by the huge pressure that is being exerted on the Palestinians and the incitement against them.

"There is no doubt that what [Prime Minster Benjamin] Netanyahu’s government has been doing recently contributes to the fact that someone would go out to do something so severe,” he said.

The two cousins lived in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber. Ghasan Abu Jamal, 27, was married and the father of two. Uday, 22, was single, their uncle said. The two were casual laborers, doing building renovations and other jobs. They made a good living and did not have financial problems.

Large numbers of police came to Jabal Mukkaber following Tuesday morning's attack in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, Abu Salah said. A total of 11 family members, including brothers and sisters of the attackers, were arrested and their homes were searched.

“Statements about the attack issued by the Palestinian factions Hamas and the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] do not constitute a claim of responsibility. It relates to the stance of the organization in support of any action against the occupation,” Abu Salah said.

Officials at the Popular Front praised the attack. A senior figure with the organization said that a formal claim of responsibility had not yet been issued, but there was no doubt that the group welcomed the attack.

Hamas also issued an announcement praising the attack, which the police said was committed with knives, axes and guns. Hamas called it “an appropriate and operative response to the crimes of the occupation.”

President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, condemned the attack, saying that civilians – as well as holy and religious sites – should never be targeted.