Israel to reopen holy site closed after deadly attack

Judith Bessette
Julho 16, 2017

Israeli police say three Palestinians have opened fire at Israelis near an important Jerusalem holy site, wounding two seriously before being killed in a gunfight. However, he also said in a released statement that the police investigation of the attack would continue through the weekend and the plaza - holy to Jews and Muslims - might remain closed until a situation assessment on Sunday.

The police officers killed are members of the minority arab druze of Israel, very present in the police and the army.

Police said the assailants used a homemade pistol and two machine guns, the type manufactured in clandestine workshops in the West Bank.

Palestinian Muslims gathered outside the Old City walls prayed on mats that they laid on the streets and protested the Israeli decision.

Israel has closed the site for further weapons sweeps.

Bassam Al Halaq, a senior official of Awqaf, an Islamic authority in charge of Al-Aqsa, said that the Israeli police were searching the entire compound, breaking through doors.

The armed assailants were seen on security camera footage emerging to carry out the attack in the sacred compound that Jews refer to as Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Israel's closure of the compound, the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam, elicited angry reactions from across the Arab world, including Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the Arab League, who accused Israel of using the attack as a smokescreen to bar Muslims form the site.

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The Temple Mount is among the holiest and the most contentious places in the country.

The Latest on an attack by Palestinian gunmen in Jerusalem holy site (all times local): 6 p.m.

An aide to the mufti said he was later detained by police at the Old City.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone later in the day as tensions rose over the attack and its aftermath, AFP reported. They largely identify with the Palestinian cause.

"These measures are unprecedented and have never been taken since the [Israeli] occupation of Jerusalem in 1967", he said.

The site is administered by the Islamic Waqf organisation.

Two Ukrainian tourists were killed in the attack, as it emerges the knifeman appeared to have swam from a nearby public beach to access the Sunny Days El Palacio hotel.

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