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2017-07-14 digital edition

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July 14, 2017  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Jerusalem’s top Muslim cleric detained following deadly Old City shooting

(JTA) – Israeli police detained the senior Muslim cleric of Jerusalem in connection with a terrorist attack in which two Israeli police officers were killed and another wounded near the Temple Mount.

The grand mufti of the city, Mohammed Hussein, was detained for questioning Friday, July 14, at a police station in the Old City, his son, Omar, told The Associated Press.

According to the news site NRG, the mufti was called in to answer questions over his call to worshippers to ignore a temporary ban on prayer and public gathering at the Temple Mount compound and the Haram al Sharif mosque. Police closed the area after the attack.

Hussein called the closure “an escalation and aggression against al-Aqsa,” the Arablanguage name of the compound.

The three assailants, described as Arab-Israeli men of Palestinian heritage, were killed by security forces near the scene of the attack at the Lions’ Gate, which is situated directly northeast of the Temple Mount compound, the Israeli Broadcasting Corp. (IBC) reported

The murdered and wounded police officers were Druze, according to Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister.

The attack was considerably bloodier and better organized than the dozens of terrorist attacks that Israel’s security services record each month in Jerusalem. Featuring semiautomatic weapons and multiple assailants, it constituted a substantial escalation compared to most of the attacks, which feature the use of knives and homemade firebombs.

The attack occurred at around 7 a.m., police told the IBC, when the Temple Mount compound was largely empty. The gunmen fired on the police officers before fleeing into an area housing several mosques before they were shot dead by security forces in pursuit. They were carrying a handgun and two Carlo assault rifles – makeshift weapons favored by Palestinian terrorists that are produced in metal workshops in the West Bank and Gaza.

Attacks rarely occur so close to the Temple Mount compound, which also houses the Haram a Sharif mosque.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the attack in a telephone conversation he initiated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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