Israeli Arab Assailants Behind Temple Mount Attack That Killed Two Policemen

None of the assailants had previous security offenses, Shin Bet security service says

Israeli police forensic experts carry the body of a Palestinian at the scene of an attack in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, July 14, 2017.
Israeli police forensic experts carry the body of a Palestinian at the scene of an attack in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, July 14, 2017. Mahmoud Illean/AP

Three Israeli Arabs from the northern town of Umm al-Fahm were behind the deadly shooting at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday morning, the Shin Bet security service said.

Two police officers were killed and another was wounded in the Friday morning attack. All assailants were shot and killed.

The Shin Bet named the three assailants as Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Jabareen (29), Mohammed Hamed Abd Al-Latif Jabareen (19) and Mohammed Ahmed Mafdal Jabareen (19). None had previous security offenses.

Police said that three armed assailants arrived at one of the gates to the Temple Mount when they noticed policemen present. They shot at them and escaped in the direction of the mosques on Temple Mount. They were pursued and shot and killed by policemen, police said, adding that two rifles and a pistol were found on their bodies.

The gates to the Temple Mount area were shut on orders from the police and the complex was cleared of people. Friday prayers at the complex were also cancelled by police for the first time in years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also ordered to dismantle the mourning tents that have been set up by the assailant's families in Umm-al Fahm. Large police forces entered the city on Friday and searched the attackers' neighborhoods.

Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, told the A-Shams radio that "the Arab citizen's struggle is political and unarmed. We oppose to all use of weapons among our youth." He further accused Netanyahu of allowing settlers' provocative visits to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. "The government must respect the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and allow prayer there. The occupation is the root of the problem, and we will fight it in a political and determined manner."

The last time the Temple Mount complex was closed off to Muslims was a day after the 2014 shooting of Yehudah Glick, now a Knesset member for the Likud. The cancelation of Friday prayers at the Temple Mount compound is unusual and didn’t even occur during the second intifada, and may lead to tensions in East Jerusalem. An official from the Waqf Muslim religious trust told Haaretz that to the best of his memory, the last time Friday prayers were completely cancelled at the site was in 1990.

The Prime Minister's Bureau said that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an update call a short while ago following the attack. The defense and public security ministers, the chief of staff, the head of the Shin Bet security service, the police chief and the government's coordinator in the territories Yoav Mordechai took part.

"It was decided to shutter the Temple Mount today for security reasons. Searches will be carried out to ensure that there are no more weapons on the Temple Mount. The status quo on the Temple Mount will be preserved," it added.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that "the attack in Jerusalem is a natural reaction to Israeli terror and the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and is proof of the continuing resistance to the occupation and that the Palestinian people are united and supportive of the resistance."