US President Barack Obama.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON -- Acknowledging the murder of three Americans on Jerusalem soil, US President Barack Obama labeled the murder of praying Jews in a synagogue on Tuesday morning an unjustifiable act of terror.
"There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians," Obama said in a statement. I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem."
Three Israeli-American rabbis, Aryeh Kopinsky, Calman Levine, and Moshe Twersky, were killed in the early morning attack inside the synagogue, which injured several others. The assailants, identified as Palestinians from east Jerusalem, are also dead.
The president's statement did not acknowledge the identity of the assailants, but instead called on all parties to "lower tensions."
"At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem," the president said, "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."
After releasing the written statement to the press, Obama also spoke on the attack, saying, "obviously, we condemn in the strongest terms."
"This is a tragedy for both nations, Israel and the United States," Obama said "Too many Israelis have died. Too many Palestinians have died."
Jerusalem risks entering a ""spiral from which it is very difficult to emerge," he added, noting patterns of violence he has witnessed across the Middle East as president. "The majority of Palestinians and Israelis overwhelmingly want peace."
Hamas, classified as a Palestinian terrorist organization by the US, European Union and Israel, has praised the attack.
In an interview on CNN, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor condemned the attack, warning against incitement and calls for days of rage across the territories.
"If you look at today, basically, ordinary Israelis cannot find a sanctuary in a synagogue," Prosor said. "I have to tell the American people, and everyone else, Israel is on the front line in countering terrorism. "
"If you're not with us today," he said, "you'll find terrorism on your doorstep tomorrow."