JERUSALEM — Two Israeli police officers were killed in a shooting Friday in Jerusalem’s Old City, just outside one of the world’s most important religious sites.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said three armed assailants, whom he identified as terrorists, targeted police units in the area. One tried to stab a police officer, he said.
All three attackers were shot and killed and the area has been closed off, according to Rosenfeld. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals.
“I can confirm that the two police officers who were previously in critical condition have died of their wounds in hospital,” Rosenfeld said.
Rosenfeld said the attackers were “Israeli Arabs from Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel.”
Police released images of what they said were the weapons used by the assailants, including a knife, a pistol and a homemade automatic firearm.
The incident took place a little after 7 a.m. local time by the Lions’ Gate in the Old City walls, next to what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews call the Temple Mount. The area is home to the Western Wall — which was part of the walls around the Second Jewish Temple and is one of the holiest place for Jews to pray — and the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.
There is currently a heavy police presence and the area remains closed for security assessments, Rosenfeld said.
This means Muslims will not be able hold Friday prayers there, as the Al-Aqsa mosque compound is within the closed area. Worshipers at the Western Wall will likely not be affected, as it’s further away from the incident.
Fridays in Jerusalem are often a time of heightened security, as it’s the holy day of the week for Muslims and Shabbat for Jews begins at sundown.
Though shooting attacks are rare, stabbings and vehicle attacks in Jerusalem have been common in recent years.
A 23-year-old policewoman died last month after she was stabbed in an attack near the city’s Damascus Gate. The three assailants were shot and killed, police said.
In January, a man plowed his truck into a crowd of soldiers, killing four and injuring 10. The militant Islamist group Hamas, which runs the Gaza strip, praised that attack but did not claim responsibility.