Israeli police shoot Palestinian dead outside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Israeli police shot a Palestinian man dead outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the early hours of Saturday, according to multiple sources.
The police said on Saturday that their unit shot the man, who they identified as a 26-year-old from the Bedouin town of Hura, southern Israel, after he grabbed an officer’s gun and attempted to fire it.
But local sources and eyewitnesses speaking to The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed denied the Israeli police’s claims that the slain man had grabbed the weapon.
The sources said that the man was shot outside the Chain Gate (Bab Al-Silsila) after he intervened as Israeli police tried to arrest a girl within the mosque compound.
The man was scuffling with the officers when he was shot, the sources said.
After the shooting, large numbers of Israeli soldiers to the mosque — the third-holiest site in Islam — and besieged part of it, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
Israeli forces also closed off entry and exit to the Old City, where they assaulted shopkeepers and stall owners.
The incident came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when thousands of Palestinians head to the compound for prayers — particularly on Fridays, the holy day of the week in Islam.
A staggering 250,000 people prayed at the holy site on Friday, the Jordanian body that administers the mosque said.
To enter Jerusalem, Palestinians from elsewhere face strict controls, including checkpoints and interrogations.
Posting images on Twitter of worshippers crowded at Israeli checkpoints en route to Jerusalem, Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh blasted the "strict and humiliating measures".
Aggression towards Palestinians at the compound, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, is likely to rise further as the Jewish festival of Passover approaches.
Jewish extremists emboldened by the far-right Israeli government have vowed to carry out animal sacrifices or prayers at the site, despite a ban on such rituals at the compound.
The Israeli army announced that crossings from the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank would be closed from Wednesday evening to Saturday night due to Passover.
Palestinians from the West Bank will be able to cross on Friday for Ramadan prayers.
The crossings will be closed again on April 11 and 12, the end of Passover, the army said.
The year 2023 has already been among the deadliest in recent memory for Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in terms of Israeli state violence.
More than 90 Palestinians in have been killed by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of the year.
Agencies contributed to this report.