Man shot, killed while trying to snatch police officer’s weapon in Jerusalem
Israeli security forces shot and killed a man in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday night after he tried to take an officer’s weapon.
The incident happened near the Temple Mount flashpoint as security forces were on high alert during the sensitive Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Police stopped the suspect for a check when he attacked one of the officers, when he grabbed his firearm, and managed to fire a shot, a police statement said.
The officers felt threatened and responded with gunfire, “neutralized on the spot,” said the police.
The suspect was a 26-year-old resident of the town of Hura Bedouin in southern Israel.
Police officers assessed the situation after the incident and deployed reinforcements to the area.
Police said, contrary to reports circulating on social media, there was no significant disturbance on the Temple Mount or in the Old City.
Some Border Police were involved in minor scuffles, with video showing officers throwing sticks and tackling passers-by on Old City Street.
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The shooting took place near the Chain Gate, an entrance to the holy site of the Temple Mount.
Army Radio reported that entrances to Temple Mount were closed following the shooting incident.
For Palestinian Muslims, worshiping at the site’s Al-Aqsa mosque — the third holiest site in Islam — is a central part of the Ramadan festival. Jews respect the same site as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism as the site of the ancient Temples.
Security forces were already on high alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday as thousands of Muslims took part in mass prayers at the site on the second Friday of Ramadan.
The Border Police deployed 2,300 soldiers in and around Jerusalem and the West Bank, the force said in a statement.
According to official estimates, more than 100,000 people participated in the prayers on the Temple Mount, including about 52,000 Palestinians who entered Israel from the West Bank.
The Muslim holy month, which began on Thursday and will end on April 21, often sees heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions, with frictions already high this year in Jerusalem and across the West Bank after months of deadly violence.
The military has eased some restrictions on movement for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to allow women, children and some men to pray there without permits.
Last Friday, prayers in Jerusalem passed without major incident, however, the police detained one man suspected of incitement for hanging the flag of a terrorist organization at the complex.
Some officials have warned that this Ramadan could be the most difficult to handle in recent years, as tensions remained high amid deadly Israeli attacks on the West Bank and deadly Palestinian terror attacks, as well like an increase in settler violence.
Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 15 dead and several others seriously injured.
At least 86 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them in attacks or clashes with security forces, although some were unrelated civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.