In 'Exceptional Move,' Holy Site Shut After Attack in Israel

3 gunmen, 2 officers dead in Jerusalem
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2017 6:33 AM CDT
Updated Jul 14, 2017 6:39 AM CDT
Attack in Israel Cancels Prayers for First Time in 17 Years
Israeli police forensic experts inspect the body of a Palestinian at the scene of an attack in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City.   (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Three Arab-Israelis launched an attack on a compound in Jerusalem that is one of the holiest sites for both Jews and Muslims, police say. Two officers were killed in the attack at the shrine, which Jews call Temple Mount and Muslims the Noble Sanctuary, per Reuters. It's the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, reports the AP. The attack caused the cancellation of Muslim Friday prayers for the first time in 17 years, reports the Guardian, though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the status quo governing the site "will be preserved." Still, the New York Times calls the temporary closing an "exceptional and potentially explosive measure."

Police say the gunmen, all of whom have been identified as Arab citizens of Israel, were spotted approaching a gate near the compound in Old Jerusalem and fled inside when pursued. The ensuing shootout left all three gunmen dead along with the two Israeli officers. Violence at the site in previous years has caused major escalations in Israeli-Palestinian violence. Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas condemned the shooting but criticized the decision to cancel Friday prayers, reports the Jerusalem Post. Hamas praised the "heroic" attack, while Fatah urged Muslims to go to the site despite the cancellation of prayers and "break the Israeli siege." (More Israel stories.)

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