Israel to keep status quo at East Jerusalem's holy site after attack: PM

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-14 19:26:00|Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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JERUSALEM, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, assuring him Israel will keep the status quo in East Jerusalem's holy compound, where a fatal shooting attack took place earlier.

The al-Aqsa mosque compound, holy to both Muslims and Jews, is one of the most sensitive sites in the region. The flashpoint site is holy to both Muslims, who revered it as the Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews, who know it the Temple Mount.

On Friday morning, after joining the morning prayer at the mosque, three Arab citizens of Israel opened fire at a group of Israeli police officers near the gates of the compound, injuring two officers who later died in hospital from their wounds, and moderately injuring a third officer.

The gunmen were subsequently shot and killed by the police.

In a rare talk over the phone, Abbas told Netanyahu that he denounced the attack, according to a statement released by the Israel Prime Minister's Office.

"Netanyahu clarified that Israel will take all the necessary measures to assure the security in the Temple Mount, without any change in the status quo," the statement read.

Israel annexed the site, together with the rest of East Jerusalem, shortly after it seized the territory from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Because the compound is Islam's third holiest site, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf controls and manage it.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told reporters at the site that the investigation is still ongoing. "Today's terror attack was an extremely severe event which crossed all red lines. We will need to reevaluate all of the security arrangements on the Temple Mount and its environs," he said.

He called on Arab and Jewish leaders "to work to calm the situation and maintain the quiet in Jerusalem."

Following the shooting, Commander of the Jerusalem District Yoram Halevi ordered to shut down the compound, canceling all the Friday prayers at the site.

In an unusual step, a police force went inside the site in in order to scan it, Samri said. The police also questioned Waqf officials and arrested some of them for further investigation.

Local media reported that special forces of police and military soldiers were deployed in East Jerusalem and checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, citing fear of wide protests.

The al-Aqsa compound has been at the center of a spate of bloody violence in the West Bank and Israel that broke in mid-September 2015.

Israel has accused the Palestinian National Authority of "inciting" the unrest. The Palestinians said it was the result of the 50-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, home to more than 5 million Palestinians.