Two Israeli police killed in attack at Jerusalem holy site

Update 10.45am: Two Israeli police officers have been killed by Palestinian attackers near a major shrine in Jerusalem, officials said.

Three gunmen opened fire near the site known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, which is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.

The attackers then fled into the sacred compound where they were killed in a gunfight with security forces.

Police spokesman Roni Alsheich said the policemen died of wounds sustained in the attack.

The site has been a flashpoint for violence in the past.

Earlier: Three Israelis have been injured after Palestinian gunmen opened fire near a major Jerusalem holy site, police said.

The three attackers then fled into the sacred compound where they were killed in a gunfight with security forces.

The shooting took place at the site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, which is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.

Temple Mount has been a flashpoint for violence in the past, with friction there sparking major rounds of Israeli-Palestinian violence, including a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation that lasted several years.

Police said the site was cleared of people after the attack and will be closed for prayers on Friday - the highlight of the Muslim religious week.

File image.

It typically draws tens of thousands of worshippers who flock to the compound from Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

It is only the third time since Israel's capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war that authorities have ordered the Muslim-administered compound closed, said Ikrema Sabri, a prayer leader at the holy site.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the incident began early on Friday, near Lion's Gate, one of the entrances into Jerusalem's walled Old City. The mosque compound is only a few yards away.

Ms Samri said the attackers opened fire on Israelis and then fled into the compound. Police gave chase and killed the attackers, she said.

Amateur video broadcast on Israeli TV stations showed a few seconds of what appeared to be confrontation between Israeli security forces and the attackers.

Two rifles, a handgun and a knife were found on the bodies of the attackers.

Police are investigating how the assailants were able to approach the Old City with weapons. Heavy security is in place in the area, particularly on Fridays, and young Palestinian men are frequently stopped and checked by police.

It was the latest bloodshed in a wave of Palestinian attacks that erupted in 2015, in part over the Jerusalem holy site.

In that time, Palestinian attackers have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and attacks using cars to ram into troops or civilians.

During that period, Israeli forces have killed more than 254 Palestinians, most of them said by Israel to be attackers while others were killed in clashes.

AP


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