Jerusalem's Temple Mount Shut Down After 5 Dead in 'Allahu Akbar' Terror Attack
Early Friday morning, three Arab citizens of Israel attacked Israeli police on the Temple Mount, killing two. This led Israeli security forces to close Jerusalem's holiest site for Jews and Muslims, sparking outrage as Muslims intended to worship there on their holy day, Friday.
"We cannot allow for agents of murder, who desecrate the name of God, to drag us into a bloody war, and we will deal with a heavy hand against all the arms of terror, and its perpetrators," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement. "The state of Israel will defend its sovereignty and its citizens with a strong hand, and will not allow anyone to provoke the region into a bloody war."
A video of the scene captured an assailant yelling "Allahu Akbar!"
Israeli police said the armed attackers had been spotted around 7 a.m. local time approaching the gateway from within the sacred compound which Jews revere as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, The New York Times reported. Police pursued the assailants inside the compound and both groups opened fire, killing two police and three assailants.
Police identified the slain officers as Hayil Satawi, 30, from the northern Israeli Arab town of Maghar, and Kamil Shnaan, 22, from another northern town, Hurfeish. Officials said both officers were Druze, members of an Islamic sect which most Muslims consider outside of Islam.
Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, identified the attackers as Muhammad Ahmed Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamid Jabarin, 19; and Muhammad Ahmed Mufdal Jabarin, 19. All three were residents of Umm el-Fahm, a large Arab town near the border of Israel and the West Bank. It was not known if they were related, but their names indicate membership in the same large clan.
Police announced they had evacuated and closed the compound, and helicopters circled above after the attack.
The closing of the Temple Mount is an explosive measure on its own, however. This marked the first time in 17 years that the mosque was closed for Friday prayers. Israeli restrictions on Muslim entry have prompted rioting in Palestinian areas, and previous Israeli efforts taken in response to violence at the site have strained relations with Jordan.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, reportedly called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and condemned the attack. But he also called on Netanyahu to reopen the holy site.