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Israeli PM orders demolition of synagogue assailants' homes

Israeli PM orders demolition of synagogue assailants homes

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday ordered security officials to demolish the homes of two Palestinians that perpetrated a deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, his office said in a statement.

Netanyahu said the demolitions are part of "series of additional decisions that have been made in order to strengthen security throughout the country."

His statement, however did not elaborate what were the additional decisions that have been taken.

Netanyahu ordered the highly criticisd punitive measure after a meeting he summoned with Israel's defence leadership in the wake of the attack in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox residential neighbourhood in west Jerusalem.

Two assailants stormed the Bnei Torah Synagogue during the early morning prayers, killing four people, three of them were US citizens and one had a dual British-Israeli citizenship.

Palestinian media identified the assailants as Rassan Abu al-Jamal,27, and Uday Abu al-Jamal, 22), two cousins from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyahu to condemn the attack. During their talk, Netanyahu blamed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas for the attack.

Netanyahu and other Israeli cabinet ministers accused Abbas for the recent string of violent attacks against Israelis. After the recent attack, Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said, "The hands that held the axes are the hands of terrorists, but the voice is the voice of Abbas."

However, in an afternoon discussion at the parliament's security committee, Yoram Cohen, Shin Bet, Israel's security service chief, said Abbas does not incite "terrorism."

Sources in the committee, which held the discussion behind closed doors, told Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper that according to Cohen, Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have no interest in encouraging violence against Israel.

The security chief also criticised visits by Israeli parliament member to the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif "Noble Sanctuary" and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

He said the spiking unrest in Jerusalem is stoked primarily by visits of parliament members and far-right Jewish activists to the Temple Mount, in attempt to lift the current restrictions which allow Jews to visit the site but not to pray.

According to Cohen, the violent clashes between Palestinian youths and the police were triggered by the death of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khedir, who was kidnapped and burned alive by Jewish extremists in July.

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