(JERUSALEM) — Two Israeli police officers were killed in a shooting in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday, near one of the world’s holiest sites.
Authorities said three men armed with guns and knives attacked two Israeli police officers Hail Stawi, 30, and Kaamil Snaan, 22, who were both minority Druze, near Lions’ Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, an entrance to the Muslim Quarter.
The assailants then fled into the compound toward one of world’s holiest sites, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif and known to Jews as the Temple Mount. Cellphone video taken from the scene shows the assailants being chased down and shot dead by Israeli security forces on the holy grounds.
According to Israeli police, all three assailants were Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin, from the northern city of Um al-Fahm, one of the largest Arab towns in Israel. Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, identified the men, who are part of the same family, as Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Jabareen, 29, Mohammed Hamed Abd Al-Latif Jabareen, 19, and Mohammed Ahmed Mafdal Jabareen, 19. None of them had previous security offenses.
The incident occurred just before Friday prayers, usually attended by thousands of Muslims.
The compound was cleared of visitors and locked down immediately following the shooting. Israeli police announced that Friday prayers inside the compound at the al-Aqsa Mosque would be canceled for the first time in more than 25 years.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone Friday to condemn the deadly shooting, according to Netanyahu’s office.
Abbas also called on the Israeli prime minister to reopen the holy site to Muslim worshipers as soon as possible. Netanyahu assured the Palestinian president that the longstanding status quo at the complex, which gives Muslims exclusive prayer rights to that specific area, would not change and asked Abbas to help restore calm.
An ABC News producer in Jerusalem observed Muslim worshipers conducting Friday prayers outside the Old City gates. Many worshipers said they plan to wait in the area until the compound is reopened.
The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said in a statement on social media that he is “shocked and horrified by the despicable attack.”
“Terrorism must be condemned by all and defeated,” Friedman added.
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