Israel open to returning bodies of Temple Mount attackers — report
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Israel open to returning bodies of Temple Mount attackers — report

Return of dead terrorists to their families said to be conditioned on limiting size of funerals, which police fear could trigger renewed violence

Israeli police check the scene and surround a dead body (foreground) where Arab-Israeli attackers shot and killed two policemen on the Temple Mount on July 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)
Israeli police check the scene and surround a dead body (foreground) where Arab-Israeli attackers shot and killed two policemen on the Temple Mount on July 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

Israel is reportedly prepared to return the bodies of the three Arab Israelis who carried out the recent terror attack at the Temple Mount, shooting dead two police officers.

The decision to return the bodies came at a meeting on Friday between police officials and members of the terrorists’ families, as well as the deputy mayor of Umm al-Fahm, the attackers’ hometown, Channel 10 reported Sunday.

Police informed the families that the bodies of the attackers — Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19; and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19 — will only be returned if they agree to a number of conditions, including limiting the number of people who attend their funerals, coordinating their timing and leaving a security deposit.

“Failure to comply with these conditions could lead to physical harm and property damage,” unnamed police officials told Channel 10.

“There is a real potential for these disturbances to spill over onto the Temple Mount, Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem,” the officials added, using the Biblical name for the West Bank.

The officials also told Channel 10 that “the families requested to consult on these conditions and until now have not signed onto the conditions and not given an answer.”

Three Arab Israelis named by the Shin Bet as responsible for shooting dead two Israeli police officers next to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017: Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19 and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19. (Channel 2 composite screenshot)
Three Arab Israelis named by the Shin Bet as responsible for shooting dead two Israeli police officers next to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017: Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19 and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19. (Channel 2 composite screenshot)

The July 14 attack in which the three terrorists shot dead police officers Haiel Sitawe and Kamil Shnaan using guns they smuggled into the Al-Aqsa Mosque led Israel to take the rare step of closing the complex to worshipers on a Friday — the holiest day of the week for Muslims — in order to search for additional weapons at the site.

Israel reopened the holy site two days later to Muslim worshipers after installing metal detectors at a number of entrances to the Temple Mount, which previously were only at the Mughrabi Gate, the only entrance to non-Muslim visitors.

The decision to install metal detectors at the gates to the Temple Mount has been met with widespread anger by Muslims, who say their placement is a violation of the status quo in place since Israel’s capture of the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, when the Jewish state agreed to leave control over the holy site in the hands of the Jordanian trust that administers it. Israel denies violating the status quo, saying the July 14 attack necessitated bolstered security at the access points to the compound.

Since the launch of mass protests over the Temple Mount metal detectors, four Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces, while another was killed Saturday when a petrol bomb he was planning to throw at Israeli security forces exploded prematurely.

Border Police attempt to disperse demonstrators outside Lions Gate, a main entrance to Jerusalem's Old City, on July 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Border Police attempt to disperse demonstrators outside Lions Gate, a main entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, on July 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

On Friday, 19-year-old Palestinian Omar al-Abed broke into the West Bank settlement of Halamish, murdering Yosef Salomon, 70, and his children Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36, as they ate Shabbat dinner.

In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days before the stabbing, wanting to commit a terror attack because of the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount.

In light of the escalating violence, Israel has sent additional security forces to East Jerusalem and the West Bank in order to prevent further terror attacks.

Amid the tensions, the security cabinet was scheduled to convene later Sunday to review the Temple Mount security measures. A previous meeting on Thursday night decided to leave the metal detectors in place.

Overnight Saturday-Sunday, Israel installed new security cameras and other surveillance outside Lions Gate.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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