Published: Sun, July 16, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Gunmen kill two Israeli police officers at entrance to Jerusalem mosque complex


Israeli officials have assured the Trump administration that they have no intention of changing the status quo security arrangement on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Holy Sanctuary, the White House said in a statement on Saturday.

In the past two years, Palestinian assailants have mounted several attacks on Israeli citizens and soldiers, including one a month ago in which three armed Palestinians killed a border police officer at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

"When they saw policemen they shot towards them and then escaped towards one of the mosques in the Temple Mount compound", Simri said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified the slain officers on Facebook as Haiel Sitawe, 30, and Kamil Shnaan, 22, saying they were members of the Druze community, an Arabic-speaking religious minority in Israel.

The site includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is within the closed area so Muslims will not be able hold Friday prayers there.

Israel says at least 176 of those killed were carrying out attacks while others died in clashes and protests.

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Abbas made a rare phone call to Netanyahu, demanding he cancel the decision to close the Temple Mount to worshipers following a deadly terror attack on the site. She said three firearms were found on their bodies. The gun battle ended at the Temple Mount, where police killed the attackers.

Salzberg said this was filmed and appeared in Palestinian media, and signals that Israeli police are not neutral.

Police also closed gates leading to the Old City of Jerusalem for most of Friday and banned traffic on roads leading to the Old City.

Three suspects, who allegedly opened fire at the officers, were themselves shot dead by police.

Since the start of 2017, 43 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, while ten Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time period.

No organization has claimed responsibility to date, although Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack.

The compound is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

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