The contested Temple Mount and Al Aqsa mosque compound was closed to worshipers and visitors Thursday after back-to-back shootings incited fresh riots — a reflection of the deep passions aroused by the site, among the holiest places for both Jews and Muslims.
Yehuda Glick, a stalwart advocate of Jewish access to Temple Mount and rebuilding the Jewish temple on the site, was shot Wednesday night after a meeting at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. The gunman escaped on a motorcycle, leaving the U.S.-born activist with serious injuries to his chest and neck. He was in intensive care at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Several hours later, intelligence services identified the shooter as Muataz Hijazi, 32, a Palestinian from Jerusalem who was released from jail two years ago after serving a 10-year sentence for security offenses. Israeli authorities said Hijazi, who worked at the restaurant at the heritage center, waited for Glick after a work shift.
Police special forces surrounded the Hijazi family house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, where Hijazi was believed to have gone, and called on him to surrender. According to police, he was shot and killed after he opened fire at troops from the roof of the two-story house. Palestinians charge he was not given a chance to turn himself in. Hijazi’s funeral was set for Thursday night.
Palestinians demonstrated outside the house and scuffled with police, who responded to thrown rocks with tear gas and stun grenades, as the city was filled with the sound of sirens and the rumble of helicopters overhead.
The escalation in violence highlights the dispute over the holy site and its role in the latest flare-up in Jerusalem and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict overall.
Early on Thursday morning, police killed convicted terrorist Moataz Hejazi in a shootout in the Abu Tor neighborhood. Hejazi, 32, is suspected of carrying out the attack on Glick. Hejazi, a member of Islamic Jihad who served 11-and-a-half years in prison for nationalistic crimes, shot Glick four times after he exited the Begin Center, police said.
Glick was transported to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in serious condition.
There was a “very light improvement” in Glick’s condition by Thursday night, according to Prof. Petachia Reissman, of the hospital’s gastroenterology department.
She said the 49-year-old, who holds Israeli and US citizenship and is the spokesman for the Joint Committee of Temple Organizations, remained in serious but stable condition and was still in danger. Glick remained connected to a respirator and was under a general anesthesia; this was likely to continue for a few days, Reissman, who is head of the general surgery department, said.
Protest marches are expected to take place throughout the West Bank after prayers on Friday, Fatah sources told Haaretz. The atmosphere across the Green Line is reported to be tense and angry, they said, and clashes are possible if the marchers approach security positions or roadblocks.
The Fatah chapter in Jerusalem called for Friday to be a day of rage, following the shooting death of Muatnaz Hijazi, 32, the suspected assailant of Glick. Police said that they shot Hijazi after he opened fire on police when they arrived at his home to arrest him.
Islamic Jihad published a notice of mourning for Hijazi on Thursday, saying that he was a member of the organization, though it did not take official responsibility for the attack on Glick.
Daoud Shehab, the organization’s spokesman, described Hijazi as a “dangerous inciter.”
MK Basel Ghattas(Balad) on Thursday called for an investigation into the killing of Hijazi, saying that it raised many questions that required answers. Contradictions in the version of the shooting given by the police raised doubts as to whether it was an attempt to arrest the suspect or a deliberate killing, he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded strongly to the decision to close the Temple Mount on Thursday, describing it as a “declaration of war” on the Palestinian people.
“Harming the places sacred to Muslims and Christians is a red line,” said Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, adding that the Palestinians will use all measures available to it in international law to bring Israel to account and to halt the aggression.
i believe they opened it again but only for over 50s and women..glick is a dual american citizen and an agent provocateur of divisiveness i am certain..the shooter was quickly eliminated..
abbas: “describing it as a “declaration of war” on the Palestinian people.”