Suspected shooter of Temple Mount activist killed in gunfight

Pistol, motorcycle found at home of Palestinian suspect, who served 11 years in Israeli prison; Glick hospitalized in stable but serious condition

Israeli Police block off scene of shooting outside Jerusalem's Begin Heritage Center, where the leader of the Temple Mount Faithful was seriously injured on October 29, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli Police block off scene of shooting outside Jerusalem's Begin Heritage Center, where the leader of the Temple Mount Faithful was seriously injured on October 29, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The suspected shooter in Wednesday’s assassination attempt on a Temple Mount activist in Jerusalem was killed in the mixed Jewish-Arab Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor early Thursday morning following a shootout with police.

According to the police, counter-terrorism officers arrived at the suspect’s house and attempted to arrest him when they came under fire. They returned fire and confirmed they killed the suspect. The motorcycle and pistol used in the attack were reportedly found at the suspect’s house.

The man killed Thursday morning was unofficially identified as Mu’taz Hijazi, an Islamic Jihad operative. The shootout came hours after the attempted murder of Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick. Palestinian media reported that the man’s father and brother were taken into police custody.

The Shin Bet security service confirmed that the suspected shooter, a 32-year-old Palestinian who had previously served time in Israeli prison, was killed Thursday morning in Abu Tor.

Islamic Jihad and Hamas both released statements praised the shooter.

Clashes between Palestinians and police continued in East Jerusalem neighborhoods after Thursday morning’s shootout. Rocks were thrown at a bus near the Damascus Gate, inflicting minor damage to the vehicle but causing no injuries.

Israel’s police commissioner Yohanan Danino announced that the national security level was raised.

Photos of the suspected assassin circulated on social media, but there was no official confirmation of the slain man’s identity.

Glick remained in serious, but stable, condition Thursday morning after being shot three times Wednesday night outside the Jerusalem’s Begin Center following a conference about the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. Eyewitnesses said the gunman had a clear Arabic accent and spoke briefly to Glick, asking for his identity and telling him “you’ve made me angry,” before firing his weapon.

Police barred access to the Temple Mount for Muslim and Jewish worshipers and visitors and were on high alert in the city, bracing for violence and revenge attacks.

Late Wednesday night, right-wing activists, and Knesset members including Likud’s Moshe Feiglin called for an en masse march on the Temple Mount as a response to the shooting attack.

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.

Following the incident, right-wing lawmakers called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a tougher stance in the capital.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, from the Jewish Home party, demanded that Netanyahu return “Israeli sovereignty to Jerusalem.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, seen in the Knesset, June 09, 2014. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, seen in the Knesset, June 09, 2014. (photo credit: FLASH90)

“Security is delivered through actions, not talk. An attack in the heart of Jerusalem is a red line.” he said.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), 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.”

Ariel also called on Netanyahu to open the site to Jewish worshipers, as did the party’s MK Ayelet Shaked.

Channel 2 reported Wednesday night following the incident that Glick had turned to police at least five times recently to complain about threats to his life. Police maintained no such complaints were received.

Rabbi Yehudah Glick (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Rabbi Yehudah Glick (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

MK Eli Ben Dahan, also of Jewish Home, posted a Facebook status late Wednesday night, criticizing the police’s alleged inaction alongside what seems to be a screenshot of a threat made against Glick’s life. The picture shows Glick with a red X across his body and the words “death to you soon,” in bad Hebrew, written at the top.

יהודה גליק התלונן על ההסתה נגדו במשטרה. ו…..משטרת ישראל עשתה משהו…?

Posted by ‎אלי בן דהן‎ on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The writing was on the wall, said MK Miri Regev, from the Likud party, who was also at the conference Wednesday night.

MK Miri Regev participates in Knesset committee in May. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/FLASH90)
MK Miri Regev (photo credit: Uri Lenz/FLASH90)

“The attempted murder of Yehudah Glick is an escalation of events in Jerusalem. As long as the Israeli government fails to act against terror, against incitement and against the Islamic Movement, terrorism will lift its head not just in Jerusalem, but across the country,”Regev wrote on Facebook.

Feiglin, who was at the event, said the incident was “terrible but quite expected.”

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

“The flaccidity of the defense mechanism and Minister for Internal Security [Yitzhak] Aharonovitch in the face of the Arab violence constantly perpetrated against Jews on the Temple Mount encourages further violence and has brought about this attempted murder,” he wrote on Facebook.

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