Cairo, Tel Aviv- Three Arab gunmen shot dead two Israeli policemen and were then killed by security forces in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The five victims are Arab-Israelis. The two dead policemen are: Hail Stawi, 30, and Kaamil Snaan, 22.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the police to handle the issue and ordered the Al-Aqsa mosque closed to Friday prayers, forcing Palestinians to perform their prayers in the streets.
At 7 am, the three gunmen arrived at the Lions’ Gate where there was an Israeli patrol and started shooting. Instantly, the soldiers fired back, killing the three gunmen while six policemen were injured. Two of them later succumbed to their wounds.
In a phone conversation with Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “expressed his strong rejection and condemnation of the incident that took place in Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as his rejection of any violent incidents from any side, especially in places of worship.”
Abbas called on Israel to cancel the measures of closing the mosque to worshipers, warning of the “repercussions of these measures” or any attempts “to change the religious and historical status of the holy places.”
The Palestinian authority carried out phone calls with Jordan to push towards canceling the Israeli measures and the Jordanian officials affirmed that they are following the matter with Israel.
A Palestinian official saw that this operation undermines Palestinian and international attempts to end the occupation of Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories. “This operation gives excuse to the occupation to increase its intransigence and escape its responsibility in ending the conflict,” he added.
Hamas stated that the operation expresses the insistence of youths to protect Al-Aqsa from the occupation violations while Fatah described the closure as a dangerous escalation.
Further, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the attack in Jerusalem could ignite more violence and said all sides must avoid escalation.