Global churches leader, UN denounce slaying at Jerusalem synagogue

(Photo:REUTERS / Finbarr O'Reilly)Israelis attend the funeral of Aryeh Kopinsky, Calman Levine and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg in Jerusalem November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with a meat cleaver and a gun killed four worshippers, including Kopinsky, Levine and Goldberg in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday before being shot dead by police, the deadliest such incident in six years in the holy city amid a surge in religious conflict.

GENEVA - The World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed concern and sadness over the attack on a synagogue in west Jerusalem, condemning the action.

The incident on November 18 has resulted in the killing of four Jewish worshippers, including two rabbis and a police officer who died later, along with the injury of others.

"There is a particular horror in any such attack which takes place at a place of worship.

"I condemn this violence unequivocally, as I do all violence between the peoples and communities of this region which has seen so much bloodshed in the name of religion," said Tveit in a statement released in Geneva.

The United Nations human rights body in Geneva along with world leaders also condemned the Jerusalem acts of violence urging restraint from all sides.

Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights noted the death to the five Israelis.

He also said that on November 16 a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his bus in Jerusalem in unclear circumstances.

Tveit warned, "Violence, collective punishments and communal attacks can only further damage the prospects of peace and justice for all."


He expressed deep concern about the heightened tensions, "some of an explicitly religious nature, which"

The world churches body leader warned of the risk that tensions in the Holy Land could spill over into more acts of violence or incitement.

He said that it is important that all responsible authorities - including civil, religious and law enforcement - take proactive steps to prevent any reprisals by extremist groups.

"The tensions and tragedies of this city, holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, are a reminder both of the need for all parties to continue to work intensively for a just peace in Israel and Palestine, and of the vital place that Jerusalem itself plays in that longed for peace," Tveit said.

The WCC leader said there had been much hedging and delay and obstruction in the Holy Land.

"All parties and powers need to work proactively to find a solution which will meet the demands of justice and the hopes of all people of good faith," he stressed.

New initiatives are needed, said Tveit, to halt failing peace processes, as well as the increasing settlements and continued occupation in order to build trust.

At the U.N. in Geneva Colville said the human rights body has expressed alarm at the recent series of violent incidents in Israel and in the Palestinian Territory.

He also referred to other recent violent actions including at least six other people - including five Israelis and one Ecuadorean - killed in the past month in alleged attacks involving cars driven at people and knife attacks.

At least three Palestinian suspects were killed when Israeli security forces reacted to these incidents.

In response, Israel has reportedly announced that it will demolish or seal six homes of Palestinians allegedly involved in previous attacks.

"We condemn all acts of violence, which have resulted in deaths and injuries," said Colville.

"Israel has a duty to ensure law and order, including by bringing to justice those responsible for these attacks, but any response must be in accordance with international law."

Colville said the U.N. rights body is urging Israeli authorities to refrain from taking measures, such as punitive demolitions, which violate international law and may further inflame the situation.

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