Israel’s PM Netanyahu urges restraint following an assassination attempt by an Islamic terrorist on Yehuda Glick, a right wing Jewish activist.
The Temple Mount will be open Friday to Muslim men over the age of 50 and to women of all ages, the Israeli police announced Thursday evening after on Wednesday it decided to close the compound until further notice amid the recent escalation in violence in east Jerusalem and Wednesday night’s attempted assassination on a Jewish right wing activist.
“It was decided to restore [the compound] to normal… effective immediately,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP. There would be no restrictions on Muslim women attending the Friday prayers, she also added.
The police on Thursday morning shot and killed the Palestinian suspected of trying to assassinate Yehuda Glick, 50, an advocate for Jews’ right to pray on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews.
The suspect was identified by security forces as Muataz Hijazi, 32, a former inmate released from an Israeli prison after serving 11 years for terror-related offenses.
The Police and Shin Bet security agency said Hijazi was shot by an elite police squad trying to arrest him at his east Jerusalem home, after he fired at them.
Hijazi worked at a restaurant in the Begin Heritage Center, where Glick had given a lecture minutes before he was shot.
The Islamic Jihad organization, to which Hijazi reportedly belonged, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack.
The Police were placed on highest state of alert following the attempted assassination. Fearing rioting at the Temple Mount, which has often been a flashpoint of clashes between Arabs and Jews, it decided Wednesday night to close the compound off to all visitors.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the closure was tantamount to “a declaration of war.”
“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina quoted him as saying.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday made a connection between the assassination attempt and the “wave of incitement by radical Islamic elements and by Palestinian Authority Chairman [Mahmoud Abbas], who said that Jews must be prevented from going up to the Temple Mount by any means possible.”
“I still have not heard from the international community so much as one word of condemnation for these inflammatory remarks,” he added.
However, Netanyahu also urged restraint, saying no side should take matters in their own hands. “I have ordered significant (police) reinforcements so that we can maintain security… the struggle must be long, and here, like in other struggles, we must first of all, lower the flames… we must be level-headed,” the Prime Minister said.
Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin of the Likud, a hardliner who often comes to pray on the Mount as provocation against the Muslims, said Thursday that the attempt on Glick’s life proved that the decades-long curbs imposed by the Israeli government and police on Jewish worshipers at the site had been misguided.
“We should be doing the exact opposite whenever anyone tries to tell us that a certain piece of land is not ours – we should claim it as our own. This is the way the State of Israel was built,” he said on Israel Radio.
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