A prominent Temple Mount activist was seriously injured Wednesday evening when he was shot outside the Jerusalem’s Begin Center following a conference about the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Yehudah Glick, the head of the Temple Mount Faithful organization, was shot at least three times by an unidentified assailant wearing a helmet, who police said fled the scene on a motorcycle. The Israel Police put up roadblocks and are searching the area for the perpetrator.

Glick had finished a speech at a conference at the Begin Center, entitled “Israel returns to the Temple Mount.” Eyewitnesses said that after the event a man with an Arabic accent approached Glick and asked him for his identity. The man then shot the victim, got on the motorcycle and fled.

Prior to firing at Glick at the end of the Temple Mount conference at the Begin Center on Wednesday night, later reports indicated, the gunman approached the rabbi, and told him, “Yehuda, I’m sorry, but the things you said hurt me.” Glick asked him what he meant, but the gunman did not respond, instead gunning him down. Glick remained in very serious but stable condition in the hospital late Thursday.

Glick was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in serious condition. After undergoing surgery, a hospital official said Glick was in serious but condition and his life remained in danger.

Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who was at the event, said the incident was “terrible but quite expected,” Ynet reported.

“Yehuda Glick was threatened all the time. The fact that permanent security was not assigned to him is a failure,” he said.

Feiglin also said he would go up to the Temple Mount on Thursday at 8 a.m.

Fellow right-wing MK Miri Regev was also at the event.

Menachem Begin Heritage Center (Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Deror Avi/ Wikimedia Commons)

Menachem Begin Heritage Center (Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Deror Avi/ Wikimedia Commons)

Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a proponent of a Jewish presence in east Jerusalem, said that the bullets fired at Glick “were aimed at all Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount,” i24 news reported. He also demanded open Jewish access to the site in response.

Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem set off fireworks in celebration.

Several dozen Israelis demonstrated outside the Begin Center Wednesday night, wrapping themselves in Israeli flags and calling on police to “eliminate terror.”

US-born Yehuda Glick, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Othniel, near Hebron, previously worked as the executive director of the Temple Institute, an organization that prepares vessels and garments for a future Jewish temple, before joining the Temple Mount Faithful.

Glick was arrested last October, and barred by police from the Temple Mount, according to the Forward. The decision was reversed after a 12-day hunger strike.

“I believe that the Temple Mount represents a place that has potential for being an international center for religious tolerance,” he told the Forward.

The circumstances of the incident remained unclear, but the prevailing suspicion is that the attempted murder was politically motivated.

The shooting came amid weeks of rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem. Last week a Palestinian man drove a car into a crowded train platform located along the seam separating East and West Jerusalem, killing two. In the days following, Palestinians have clashed continuously with Israeli police in Arab neighborhoods of the capital. Israel responded to the rise in violence by increasing its police presence, deploying an additional 1,000 officers to the city.

The shooting took place as diplomats convened a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the growing tensions in Jerusalem.