Clashes in Jerusalem as Palestinian shot dead by police
Actions ‘tantamount to a declaration of war’, says president Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian stone throwers clash with the Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Abu -tor, after Israeli police killed the Islamic Jihad activist Mu’ataz Hijazi, a suspect in the assassination attempt of the Israeli right-wing activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA
Israeli police have shot dead a 32-year-old Palestinian man suspected of having tried hours earlier to kill a far-right Jewish activist, leading to fierce clashes in East Jerusalem and fears of a new Palestinian uprising.
The Al-Aqsa compound, or Temple Mount, which is a central cause of the latest violence, was closed to all visitors as a security precaution. It was the first full closure of the site, venerated by both Jews and Muslims, in 14 years.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas denounced Israeli actions as “tantamount to a declaration of war”.
Moataz Hejazi’s body lay in a pool of blood among satellite dishes on the rooftop of a three-storey house in Abu Tor, a district of Arab East Jerusalem, as Israeli forces sealed the area and repelled stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.
Mr Glick, a US-born settler, was shot as he left a conference at the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre in Jerusalem late yesterday, his assailant escaping on the back of a motorcycle. A spokesman for the centre said Mr Hejazi had worked at a restaurant there. Mr Glick (48) remains in serious but stable condition with four gunshot wounds, doctors said.
Residents said hundreds of Israeli police were involved in the pre-dawn search for Mr Hejazi. He was tracked down to his family home in the winding, hilly backstreets of Abu Tor and eventually cornered on the terrace of an adjacent building.
“Anti-terrorist police units surrounded a house in the Abu Tor neighbourhood to arrest a suspect in the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “Immediately upon arrival they were shot at. They returned fire and shot and killed the suspect.”
Locals identified the man as Mr Hejazi, who was released from 11 years in an Israeli prison in 2012. His father and brother were arrested. Israeli police fired sound bombs to keep back groups of angry residents, who shouted abuse as they watched the drama unfold from surrounding balconies.
One Abu Tor resident, an elderly Arab man with a walking stick who declined to be named, described Hejazi as a troublemaker and said “he should have been shot 10 years ago”. Others said he was a good son from a respectable family.
“They are good people, he does nothing wrong,” said Niveen, a young woman who declined to give her family name.
“We praise his martyrdom that came after a life full of Jihad and sacrifice and which responded to the call of holy duty in defending Al-Aqsa mosque,” Islamic Jihad said.