Arye Deri and Eli Yishai.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas party leaders declared that the terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Tuesday was part of a war being waged in the city and called for an intense security operation to restore safety to the capital.
The attack, in which four men were killed and others were wounded, was carried out in the Bnei Torah synagogue in the haredi neighborhood of Har Nof, where several Shas MKs, including former chairman MK Eli Yishai and current Shas chairman Arye Deri, reside.
Yishai called for security personnel to be stationed at synagogues and other public buildings not presently secured in the wake of the terrorist attack.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, he said that security measures to protect Jerusalem residents needed to be increased, and called on the government to act with “a strong hand” against terrorist elements and those inciting violence.
“Jews wrapped in their prayer shawls and tefillin were massacred today in a bloodbath, simply because they were Jews,” Yishai said earlier. “The scenes are scenes of war which we haven’t seen for years. A war is being waged in Jerusalem right now and the security services must act accordingly. This is a war for Israel’s very existence.”
Several hours before the terrorist attack, threats to kill Jews and a picture of a bloody knife were posted on Yishai’s Facebook page.
“In the name of God and with God’s blessing, the slaughter of Zionist Jews across the land of Palestine,” the threats read. The incident was reported to the security services after the attack.
Party chairman Arye Deri also described the severe security situation in the capital as a war, and said that the wave of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem was not random, but organized.
“The awful massacre of those praying in synagogue in Har Nof this morning leaves us no alternative; we are in a war for our lives,” Deri said.
“I call on the prime minister to address recent events as a state of war and to undertake an uncompromising operation to eliminate terrorism in Jerusalem and to return quiet and security to its residents,” he continued.
“We don’t need self-defense or restraint, the time has come to wipe out this murderous terrorism,” he said.
Ya’acov Margi, another senior Shas MK, also hit out at what he described as government inaction and restraint.
“It is because of this restraint that such violence has taken hold,” Margi told the Post. “There must be an intensive security operation inside Jebl Mukaber to find out exactly what is happening there and root out the terrorist agents in this neighborhood.
“We’re talking about an organized terrorist war brought about by severe political and media incitement and we will only restore security by acting severely against those who are responsible for such incitement,” he said.
In the wake of the attack, Rabbi David Yosef, a member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages and son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late spiritual leader of the Shas movement, spoke out, not for the first time, against Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount, which he has previously condemned as incitement, writing a letter to the prime minister calling on him to close the site to Jews.
Yosef, who is the neighborhood rabbi of Har Nof, said on the ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Barama on Tuesday that there was no doubt “that there are irresponsible, evil people in our camp who go up to the Temple Mount and transgress a Torah prohibition that is punishable by spiritual excommunication and provokes the nations of the world.”