Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Israel spy chief backs Abbas as toll for synagogue attack rises......

ISRAEL’s security chief has rejected accusations that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is responsible for inciting the climate of ­violence that led to the killing of four Jewish worshippers.
This contradicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who immediately blamed Mr Abbas after the attack on Tuesday.
Israeli media reported yesterday that the chief of security agency Shin Bet, Yoram Cohen, told legislators after the killings that Mr Abbas had rejected any intifada, or uprising.
Middle East braces for escalation
“Abu Mazen (Abbas) is not interested in terror and is not leading (people) to terror,” he said. “Nor is he doing so under the table.”
Israelis and Palestinians braced for an escalation of violence yesterday after two Palestinian men stormed into a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighbourhood armed with a meat-cleaver, knives and a gun.
They killed four ordained rabbis and injured several, before they were shot dead by police.
The toll rose to five yesterday after a policemen died.
Mr Netanyahu and Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett blamed Mr Abbas, saying he had incited violence.
Mr Abbas condemned the killings but his political rival Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the attack, claiming it was in response to “the murder” the previous day of a Palestinian.
On Monday a Palestinian bus driver in Jerusalem was found hanged. Israeli police say a post-mortem examination showed the driver committed suicide but his family and a co-worker say he was murdered.
Mr Cohen addressed a committee of the Knesset shortly after the synagogue attack.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Mr Cohen as saying the two Palestinian men were not part of any organised plot.
The paper said Mr Cohen had urged public figures to refrain from visiting the site, which houses the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. “The religious dimension of the conflict is very dangerous and explosive, because it has implications for the Palestinians and for Muslims everywhere in the world,” he was quoted as saying. “We have to do everything possible to instil calm.”
Israeli security forces yesterday destroyed the East Jerusalem home of a Palestinian who carried out a suicide car attack in October that killed two Israelis. The Israeli army said: “The home of the terrorist, who killed an Israeli baby and a young woman on October 22 in a tram station in Jerusalem, was destroyed in Silwan.”
Barack Obama urged “ordinary citizens” to lower tensions in Jerusalem.
“There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians,” the US President said. “At this sensitive ­moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work co-operatively together to lower tensions, reject ­violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.”
Muslims regard the al-Aqsa mosque as their third-holiest site. Most religious Jews regard the Kotel, or Western Wall, as the ­holiest site to pray but some argue that the site of the al-Aqsa mosque — or Temple Mount, as Jews call it — is holier.
Three of the victims were immigrants from the US — Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, Rabbi Kalman Levine, 55, and Aryeh Kupinsky, 43. The fourth was an immigrant from Britain — Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68.
Funerals were held within hours of the murders. In his ­eulogy, the chief rabbi of the community, Yitzhak Mordechai Rubin, said: “On one street, four widows and 24 orphans were left.”
Rabbi Rubin urged against revenge over the murders. One witness to the shootings, Yosef Posternak, told Israel Radio: “I looked up and saw someone shooting people at point-blank range. Then someone came in with what looked like a butcher’s knife and he went wild.”