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Middle East Amp North Africa
Jerusalem on edge after shooting of rabbi
From the Financial Times of Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:05:53 GMT
Israeli security forces stand behind a security perimeter as Israelis wave flags outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center where Yehuda Glick, a "Temple Mount" Jewish Activist was shot and wounded in west Jerusalem on October 29, 2014 in Jerusalem. A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire after the close of a conference about the Temple Mount at the Begin Center. Police say they are investigating all possibilities. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)©Getty

Israeli security forces were on high alert in Jerusalem on Thursday after a controversial rightwing rabbi was shot and wounded in an apparent assassination attempt late on Wednesday, and Israeli security forces shot and killed the man they said was his assailant.

Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a US-Israeli religious activist who wants Jews to be allowed to pray at the site of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, was shot and seriously wounded on Wednesday evening in the city, leading to a massive manhunt in Arab neighbourhoods and raising fears of a broader Israeli-Palestinian confrontation.

Israeli police on Thursday said they had shot and killed Muatnaz Hijazi, a resident of Jerusalem’s Abu Tor neighbourhood, after he opened fire on police officers who surrounded his house during Wednesday’s overnight operation.

On Thursday morning helicopters could be seen hovering over eastern Arab neighbourhoods of the city, which have seen regular clashes in recent days between Palestinians and Israeli police.

Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said Mr Hijazi was “an active terrorist who was involved in a number of previous incidents” and the main suspect behind the attempt to assassinate Mr Glick.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that the Israeli prime minister had held a ‘special discussion’on Thursday morning in the wake of the shooting.

In a statement, the Israeli leader said that Israel was facing “a wave of incitement by radical Islamic elements” and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the issue of Jewish prayer at Temple Mount.

“I still have not heard so much as one word of condemnation for these inflammatory remarks,” Mr Netanyahu said. “The international community needs to stop its hypocrisy and take action against inciters, against those who try to change the status quo.”

Jerusalem has been on edge after clashes earlier this month at al-Aqsa where Palestinians have pelted rocks and firebombs at Israeli police to protest against the presence of rightwing Israeli visitors who want to overturn a longstanding status quo prohibiting Jewish worship there. Israeli police responded by restricting access to the site, which had been calmer in recent days leading up to Wednesday’s shooting.

Photo dated January 19, 2010 shows Yehuda Glick, a "Temple Mount" Jewish Activist, posing in Jerusalem. Rightwing Israeli activist Yehuda Glick was shot and wounded in west Jerusalem on October 29, 2014, police said, adding that the motive for the attack remained unclear. The assailant, who was riding a motorbike and wearing a helmet, sped off after the shooting, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. AFP PHOTO / MIRI TSACHI **ISRAEL OUT**©AFP

Yehuda Glick at Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Mr Glick was head of a rightwing religious group that wants to rebuild the destroyed Jewish Temple where al-Aqsa – one of Islam’s holiest sites – now stands, and was a familiar sight to journalists as he queued with non-Muslim visitors to visit the area, which Jews call Temple Mount.

He was shot on Wednesday evening at Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center, where he spoke alongside far-right Israeli political figures including Moshe Feiglin and Miri Regev, extremist members of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party who want to pass a bill overturning the status quo on Temple Mount.

Mr Netanyahu says he will oppose the bill, and has no plans to change the status quo. However, members of his government, including far-right economy mnister Naftali Bennett, favour a change – a prospect that has alarmed Palestinians and neighbouring Jordan, which administers al-Aqsa through a religious trust.

Jewish settlers have also in recent weeks angered Palestinians by moving into Silwan, an Arab neighbourhood in the shadow of al-Aqsa, after buying houses through middlemen.

A visit by the late Ariel Sharon to Temple Mount in 2000 is seen as a contributing factor to the second intifada, the violent uprising against Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands it seized from Jordan and Egypt in 1967.

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