Police on Friday arrested a man who they said may have assisted the alleged shooter of right-wing activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick, Mu’taz Hijazi, Channel 2 reported.
Like Hijazi, the man worked in the cafeteria at Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Center, outside which the shooting took place.
However, police said it was not clear whether the second man knowingly helped Hijazi commit the crime, or whether he unwittingly provided him with information which allowed him to do so.
Earlier Friday, Haaretz reported that Security officials believed Hijazi may not have acted alone.
Glick was shot and seriously injured Wednesday by an assailant on a motorcycle upon leaving a conference in Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Center that dealt with promoting greater Jewish access to the Temple Mount. The shooter escaped, but was identified by police as Hijazi – who worked at the center’s cafeteria. Security forces killed Hijazi on Thursday morning in Jerusalem’s Abu Tor neighborhood, saying he opened fire when they came to arrest him. Palestinians claim he was shot in cold blood.
According to the Haaretz report, Shin Bet officials believe Hijazi was likely to have had an accomplice in the shooting at the Begin Center, who stood outside during the conference and waited for participants to emerge, helping Hijazi single out Glick and attack him.
Glick is known as a strident advocate of increased Jewish control over the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Palestinian sources said that Hijazi served 11 years in an Israeli prison for terrorist activity during the Second Intifada, and was released in 2012.
He was reported to have originally been sentenced to six years, but was given an additional five after he attacked prison guards.
In a 2012 interview shortly after his release from prison, Hijazi told the Ramallah-based al-Quds News outlet that “God willing, I’ll be a thorn in the side of the Zionist project of Judaizing Jerusalem.
Prior to shooting Glick, Hijazi allegedly approached the rabbi and told him, “Yehudah, I’m sorry, but the things you said hurt me.” Glick asked him what he meant, but the gunman did not respond, instead firing four shots at point-blank range, Channel 2 reported.
Glick was said to be in serious but stable condition throughout Thursday after undergoing surgery in the abdomen, chest, hand and neck. On Friday doctors said his situation had improved and that he would be out of danger if the improvement continued in the next few days.
Hijazi was buried late Thursday, as supporters and relatives marched through East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court gave the go-ahead for the funeral Thursday after the family lawyer requested that the suspected assassin’s body be transferred from the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute to Jerusalem for immediate burial. The court accepted the family’s plea, despite the fact that no autopsy had been performed on Hijazi’s body.
After the body arrived at the family home, Palestinians gathered at the site. Shouts of “The martyr didn’t shoot, he was killed in cold blood” were heard from the crowd, according to news site Ynet.
Islamic Jihad and Hamas both praised the shooting on Thursday. Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza Daud Shihab said that the “radical Zionist” got what was coming to him, and called him a dangerous inciter. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum praised the “heroic attack” and called on East Jerusalem residents and Palestinians in general to carry out more terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Fatah’s youth movement in Jordan also claimed in a message posted Thursday morning on the movement’s Facebook page that Hijazi belonged to the organization.
“With great pride Fatah salutes the martyr, its heroic ‘martyr of Jerusalem’ Mu’taz Hijazi, who carried out the assassination of Rabbi Yehudah Glick,” a poster on the Facebook page read.
A website affiliated with Islamic Jihad also claimed that Hijazi was one of its members. It published a bio of Hijazi on its website, noting that he was arrested in 2000, burned and destroyed “settler property in occupied Jerusalem,” attacked two jailers with a razor after they cursed him using the name of God, beat an interrogator who had tortured him during an investigation, frequented the al-Aqsa Mosque, and spent 10 of his 11 years in jail in solitary confinement.
Israeli security officials were investigating the possibility that Hijazi was responsible for the shooting of IDF soldier Chen Schwartz in Jerusalem on August 4, during this summer’s conflict with the Gaza Strip. Schwartz was shot twice in the stomach on Mount Scopus and was critically injured.
Adiv Sterman, Ilan Ben Zion and Elhanan Miller contributed to this report.