UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon AFP photo

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday night strongly condemned the terrorist attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood in which five people were murdered.

In a statement, Ban called for political leadership and courage on both sides to address the “very tense” situation in the region.

He noted that beyond today’s “reprehensible” incident, clashes between Palestinian Arab youths and Israeli security forces continue on a near daily basis, adding, “The steadily worsening situation on the ground only reinforces the imperative for leaders on both sides to make the difficult decisions that will promote stability and ensure long-term security for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The UN chief extended his condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery, emphasizing that attacks against religious sites point to “an additional dangerous dimension to the conflict which reverberates far beyond the region.”

He welcomed the condemnation of the attack by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and stressed that all sides must “avoid using provocative rhetoric which only encourages extremist elements.”

In Tuesday’s attack, two Palestinian Arab terrorists stormed a synagogue in Har Nof with axes, knives and a gun. Four worshipers were killed on the spot and a fifth victim, a police officer who arrived on the scene of the attack and engaged in a shootout with the terrorists, died of his wounds on Tuesday night.

The terrorists have been identified as cousins Uday and Rassan Abu Jamal, from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukhaber.