Armed Palestinians burst out of the Temple Mount Plaza early Friday and opened fire on Israeli police guarding Lion’s Gate, the main entrance leading into the plaza of the holy site. Three police officers were injured, two critically. Other officers chased the three terrorists into the Temple Mount plaza. A fire fight ensued near the gold-domed Dome of the Rock, the first to take place on the Temple Mount. The three gunmen were shot and killed.
The attack Friday represented a major escalation of Palestinian terror, their first on Temple Mount where tens of thousands of Muslims hold regular Friday prayers and which is held sacred by Jews and Christians as the site of the Jewish Temple. The shrine was quickly cleared and worshippers turned away. Friday prayers at Al Aqsa were cancelled as well as group visits. All the gates to the Old City were closed to vehicles and pedestrians, and the walled town placed under curfew. There is a massive police presence in the area.
An in-depth major investigation seeks to discover how the terrorists were able to smuggle guns – two rifles and a pistol – into a world shrine, undetected by police and the security cameras at the site, for targeting Israeli police.
Temple Mount will remain closed for the investigation for some days until new security regulations are installed.
This was the second shooting attack by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem in the last month. At Damascus Gate, a policewoman was stabbed to death last month during a Palestinian shooting-stabbing attack.