Israeli police Thursday shot dead a Palestinian man suspected of an assassination attempt on a right-wing hard-line campaigner for Jewish prayer rights at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
A gunman on a motorcycle shot and wounded Yehuda Glick late Wednesday night as he was leaving a conference promoting Jewish access to the contested hilltop compound surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The American-born Glick, a well-known ultranationalist and advocate for greater Jewish access to the holy site, was shot three times. He remained in the hospital in serious condition as of Thursday afternoon.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police forces surrounded the suspect’s home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor early Thursday morning.
The attack on Glick sent tensions in the city soaring to a new high, following a month of near daily clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in annexed East Jerusalem.
In an alleged attempt to quell further violence, Israeli authorities ordered the temporary closure of the Al-Aqsa compound to all worshipers, a move which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described Thursday morning as “a declaration of war.”
“This dangerous Israeli escalation of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” said Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, warning the closure would only promote “more tension and instability.”
Since 1967, the last and only time the compound was completely closed to Palestinian worshipers was after Ariel Sharon’s contentious visit to the site in 2000, a move that ignited protests leading to the Second Intifada.
Israeli Special Forces stormed the home early Thursday morning of the suspected gunman, Moataz Hijazi, 32, shooting and killing him on site.
Witnesses told Ma’an News Agency Hijazi was shot on the roof of his family’s home in the al-Thuri neighborhood between the neighborhoods of Abu Tor and Silwan. Chairman of the local sports club, Hani Gheith, said Israeli forces only entered Hijazi’s house after they were sure he was critically wounded. They then proceeded to the roof where they reportedly threw a water tank on him and watched him bleed to death.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement Thursday morning that when police arrived to Hijazi’s home, “the suspect began shooting at the force who returned fire, killing him.”
Yehuda Glick, who works for the organization known as the Temple Mount Faithful—a group dedicated to building a Jewish temple in the Al-Aqsa compound and the “liberation of the Temple Mount from Arab/Islamic occupation”—regularly leads right-wing Jewish tour groups to the Al-Aqsa compound