Israeli police say killed man who fired shots at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa
On Saturday Israeli police shot dead an Arab man who the force said grabbed a gun from an officer and fired in a scuffle at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
The dead man was identified as 26-year-old medical student Mohammed al-Asibi, a resident of the Bedouin village of Hura, in southern Israel.
Asibi’s family have disputed the police account of his death and demanded to see CCTV footage, local media said, with police saying they had none.
In a statement, police said Asibi stopped near the Chain Gate, an access point to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israel’s Old City in annexed east Jerusalem.
While being questioned, the statement said, Asibi “suddenly attacked one of the policemen”, grabbing his gun and firing it.
“As a quick response to the officers who were in danger and who were struggling with the terrorist, they shot him,” said the doctor who later said he was dead.
Passersby reported hearing shots fired, and an AFP photographer saw scores of Israeli police deployed in the Old City at around 1:00 am (2200 GMT Friday).
Raam, the Islamic party of Israel’s parliament, rejected the police account of events, noting in a Facebook post the claims from “witnesses” who said Asibi came to help a woman who was in a scuffle with the police.
Mansour Abbas, the leader of Raam, questioned the authorities’ response that there was no footage of the alleged attack.
“This is a cover-up attempt to hide the truth,” he said on Twitter, demanding an immediate investigation.
On Saturday, Rahat and Tel Sheva, two large Bedouin areas in the south, joined Hura in a general strike following the event, Israeli media reported.
Police stood by their original version of events and issued another statement on Saturday afternoon claiming that “the attack itself was not recorded on security cameras or on the police officers’ body cameras”.
They also rejected the notion that a woman was involved, saying that Asibi “came alone”, with officers suspicious that he was present at the compound after closing hours.
The shooting happened hours after thousands of Palestinians packed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the second Friday of Ramadan for peaceful prayers.
Israeli police said more than 100,000 worshipers had gathered to pray at Islam’s third holiest site, based on what Jews call the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.
More than 2,000 police officers were deployed across the city.
Violence has spiked in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the start of the year, raising fears of a flare-up during Ramadan.
In the past 10 days since the start of the holy Muslim month of fasting, there has been a relative lull in the violence.