Israeli Army Braces for Unrest in West Bank After Temple Mount Shooting

The IDF's Central Command instructed soldiers to act more vigilantly for fear that the attack would lead to unrest in the West Bank and inspire more shootings

Israeli security forces stand guard in Jerusalem's Old City following a shooting attack on July 14, 2017.
Israeli security forces stand guard in Jerusalem's Old City following a shooting attack on July 14, 2017. THOMAS COEX/AFP

Following Friday morning's attack at the entrance to the Temple Mount, in which two Border Police officers were killed and another wounded, the Israeli army instructed soldiers to act more vigilantly for fear that the attack would lead to unrest in the West Bank and inspire more shootings.

The assailants in the deadly Jerusalem attack were residents of the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. The Shin Bet security service identified them as Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Jabareen (29), Mohammed Hamed Abd al-Latif Jabareen (19) and Mohammed Ahmed Mafdal Jabareen (19). None had previous security offenses.

The police officers killed have been identified as Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Hael Sathawi, a 30-year-old resident of Maghar, and Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shanan, a 22-year-old resident of Hurfeish and the son of Druze political activist and former MK Shakib Shanan.

Police ordered the shuttering of the Temple Mount compound, which was cleared of people. Police also ordered the cancellation of Friday prayers at the site for the first time in years. Muslim worshippers who arrived at the Lions Gate to enter the Old City or the Temple Mount were turned away by policemen.

The families of the assailants said they hadn’t yet received an official announcement from the police or security forces about their involvement in the attack.

"We're shocked and don’t know how to explain what's happened," said a family member of one of the assailants. "It's very difficult and unexplained. The initial information reached us through social media, without being confirmed. In the meantime, we have no details about what's happened and how it developed."

Family and friends of the assailants arrived at mourning tents set up in their homes. The three assailants had apparently reached Jerusalem on Thursday night or Friday morning for prayers.

The Israeli government's coordinator in the territories, Yoav Mordechai, published a short video on Facebook, in which he detailed Israeli activities on the Temple Mount and said Israel seeks to preserve the freedom of worship.

"This is a terror attack that is unacceptable to us and we hope that the whole Arab world condemn it clearly and determinedly," he said.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan earlier toured the site and blamed the Palestinian Authority for incitement that led to the attack. According to him, police are investigating whether the assailants received any assistance.

"The attack today is unprecedented in that firearms were used on the Temple Mount," he said. "The assailants desecrated the sanctity of the Mount. For concern for public safety, the police were forced to completely shutter the Mount to investigate the incident and which other arms and weapons are on its premises.

"We call on the leaders of the Arab public to call for calm, and ask the public to act in moderation. It's possible that the attack was the result of months of incitement," he said.

"We call on all public leaders to act to calm the situation and preserve the quiet in Jerusalem."

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 Likud. The cancellation of Friday prayers at the Temple Mount compound is unusual and didn’t even occur during the second intifada.