Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

2 Israelis, 3 Gunmen Dead after Gunfight Near Holy Site | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55378756

Israeli border police perform a body search on a Palestinian man at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, in this February 16, 2016 file picture. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files

Three Arab-Israeli gunmen left two Israeli policemen dead after opening fire on them in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday before fleeing to an ultra-sensitive holy site, where they were killed in a gunfight with security forces.

Two Israeli police officers shot in the attack have died from their wounds, authorities said.

The three attackers were shot dead by police, and a body could later be seen lying on the ground near the Al-Aqsa mosque at the holy site.

They had been armed with guns and knives, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Security forces locked down the area and the Al-Aqsa mosque was closed to Friday prayers after the attack in a highly unusual move.

The three were killed at the site known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as the Temple Mount, the location of regular clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, but where gunfire rarely occurs.

The site includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with security officials and said checks were continuing in the area to ensure there were no other attackers, a statement from his office said.

Police are probing how the gunmen were able to approach the walled Old City with weapons. Heavy security is in place in the area, particularly on Fridays, and young Palestinian men are frequently stopped and checked by police.

The grand mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the city’s highest Islamic authority, condemned the closure of the mosque compound for prayers.

“I have very little information about it, but it doesn’t mean you should close the mosque for prayers,” he told journalists at the Lions Gate entrance to the Old City, near the holy site.

“There is no reason to close the mosque for Friday prayers.”