Two policemen killed in terror attack at Lions' Gate in Jerusalem, attackers dead
Israeli Arabs open fire at police forces at the entrance to the Temple Mount; Israeli security forces shoot and kill them; killed officers identified as Border Policemen Ha'il Satawi and Kamil Shnaan; third policeman, MDA paramedic lightly hurt from shrapnel; Temple Mount complex closed to visitors, Friday prayers will not be held there.
Ynet reporters|Last update: 14.07.17 , 18:05
Two policemen were killed and a third was lightly wounded in a terror attack on Friday morning when three terrorists opened fire at Border Police forces at the Lions' Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. The three attackers were shot and killed by police.
The three terrorists arrived at the Temple Mount at around 7am armed with two Carl Gustav rifles and a handgun. As they approached the Lions' Gate, they noticed Israeli patrol officers and started shooting at them.
The terrorists then fled towards one of the mosques in the Temple Mount complex. Police gave chase, shooting and killing all three.
A video of the attack shows one of the terrorists, who was initially declared "neutralized," get up and try to hurt an Israeli officer, who then shot and killed him.
Two of the policemen, Ha'il Satawi and Kamil Shnaan, were taken to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem's Mount Scopus in critical condition, where they succumbed to their wounds. The third policeman, 39, was hurt from shrapnel and was taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital in light condition.
The two slain officers
A Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic was also lightly hurt from shrapnel and was treated at the scene.
Wounded taken to the Hadassah Medical Center (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Ha'il Satawi, 30, from Maghar, was in the Border Police during his army service and in 2012 enlisted as a patrol officer at the Border Police's Temple Mount Unit. He is survived by his wife, three-weeks-old son, parents and three siblings. Satawi will be laid to rest at 4pm Friday in Maghar.
Satawi with his newborn son
Ha'il's cousin, Sheikh Asaid Satawi, lamented the Border Policeman's loss. "What good is this conflict, to make a two-week-old baby an orphan? I hope these would be the last casualties of this conflict; that the leaders would sit together and resolve the issues. Have every people in their own state. Enough with the bloodshed," he said.
The cousin described Ha'il as a happy person, who helped all and was beloved by all. "The service in Jerusalem is dangerous, that's well known, but he loved helping people. Everyone around him loved him and his laughter. He was a man who gave happiness to anyone who knew him," the sheikh said.
Mourners' tent for Ha'il Satawi in Maghar (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
Kamil Shnaan, 22, from Hurfeish, started serving as a patrol officer in the same unit seven months ago. He was the son of former MK Shachiv Shnaan. He is survived by his parents, one brother and three sisters. Shnaan will be laid to rest at 5:30pm Friday in Hurfeish.
Kamil's uncle, Sliman Marad Shnaan, said his nephew was supposed to get engaged in September to a girl from Daliyat al-Karmel.
"He was a salt-of-the-earth child, who loved helping everyone. He had dreams of building a home with his fiancée. He loved the homeland and the country. He wanted to study in academia and continue advancing in the police."
Kamil's cousin said that he miraculously managed to survive a skirmish during his army service, when a rocket landed next to him, killing two other soldiers. "He always said, 'if I got through the service on the northern border, everything else is easy,'" the cousin said. "He always had a smile on his face."
The three terrorists were identified as Israeli Arab citizens from Umm al-Fahm: Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamed Abed al-Atif Jabarin, 19, and Muhammad Ahmad Mafdel Jabarin, 19. The terrorists have no previous history of security related offenses, according to the Shin Bet.
Israeli IDs of the three terrorists
The Shin Bet and the Israel Police are investigating the incident and a gag order has been put on all details relating to the investigation.
Three hours before the attack, two of the terrorists posted a photo of theirs on Facebook with the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the background and wrote: "The smile will be more beautiful tomorrow." An hour before the attack, one of them wrote: "Thank God and enough."
Two of the terrorists on the Temple Mount
One of the terrorists
A relative of one of the terrorists was shocked to learn of the attack. "We didn't know they were planning to carry out an attack. We are all in shock. If we had known, we would have stopped them immediately. We do not lack problems. We are against such acts. This shooting contributes nothing to us but destroys everything. Now everyone will attack us," he said.
"When I received the message, I thought this was a case of mistaken identity, because my relative is a quiet person and did not think of shooting policemen," he added, summarizing that "this is an event that should not have happened."
No Friday prayers on Temple Mount
Following the attack, the Temple Mount complex was cleared of visitors and all of its entry gates were closed to allow security forces to search the site for additional weapons. The Jerusalem Police district commander announced Friday prayers will not be held on the Temple Mount.
Israeli security forces set up barricades to prevent entry to the Temple Mount and stopped several senior Muslim figures, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein, from entering the complex.
Security forces in Jerusalem's Old City following Friday's attack at the Lion's Gate (Photo: Reuters)
The mufti called on Muslim worshipers to arrive at the barricades and hold Friday prayers there. "There isn't a force on earth that would prevent them from getting to al-Aqsa and holding Friday prayers," he said.
Security forces holding searches in Jerusalem's Old City (Photo: AFP)
Police detained for questioning guards of the Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian body in charge of the Temple Mount, who were at the complex during the attack. According to the Islamic Waqf Authority, police also confiscated the guards' cellphones.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, who arrived at the site of the attack, was briefed by Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram HaLevy on the initial findings of the investigation into the incident.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh at the scene of the attack
"This is an unusual and extreme incident," the police said in a statement. "A shooting on the Temple Mount is a grave event, sensitive and significant on both the domestic and international levels and will be handled accordingly."
"This is, without a doubt, a very grave incident, and we are taking thorough measures on the Mount, primarily searching the entire complex to ensure there are no more weapons there," Alsheikh told reporters.
When asked how weapons were smuggled onto the Temple Mount, the police chief explained that "throughout the years, every Friday, tens of thousands of worshipers enter (the complex). They don't go through a security check when they enter as is usually done at secure sites. This is not like the Western Wall... Since you can't allow 180,000 people in for prayer through so few gates, it's obviously simpler to bring weapons onto the Temple Mount. The arms weren't necessarily brought in this morning, they could've been brought in two weeks ago, two months ago, half a year ago, or even a year ago."
Security forces in Jerusalem's Old City following Friday's attack at the Lion's Gate (Photo: Israel Police)
Speaking to the terrorists' motives, Alsheikh said, "It does not appear to be a bunch of guys, who for some personal reason are tired of living, so they come here. It appears to be something more meaningful, but it's not unusual compared to other cells that have been stopped since the beginning of this wave of terrorism."
Following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav Mordechai.
The prime minister and the leadership of the defense establishment decided to keep the Temple Mount complex closed for the day, search the area to ensure there are no other weapons hidden there, and maintain the status quo.
"I want to send my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the criminal terror attack today on the Temple Mount," Netanyahu said in a statement. "This is a sad day in which our Druze brothers are paying the heaviest price in our shared mission to defending the security of our country. I salute them and their heroism."
Security forces in Jerusalem's Old City following Friday's attack at the Lion's Gate (Photo: Reuters)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Netanyahu to condemn the attack and demand the reopening of the Temple Mount and warn of the ramifications of such a move or of taking advantage of the situation to change the status quo. Netanyahu clarified to Abbas there will be no change to the status quo.
Jordanian media, meanwhile, reported that government officials in the Kingdom were in talks with Israel in an effort to reopen the Temple Mount.
Weapons used by the attackers
A member of the Fatah leadership, Abbas Zaki, said closing the Temple Mount "is a blatant violation, which we will not accept. Everyone must resist Israel's moves. The three young men who were killed in Jerusalem were the ones who faced the real terrorism. We are now paying the price of the fake peace from the Oslo Accords. Resistance is the choice of all Palestinians and it is what will free the homeland."
The Hamas terror organization said the attack "is a natural response to the Israeli terrorism and the dirtying of the al-Aqsa Mosque. The attack shows the intifada continues and that our people are united behind the resistance."
Israeli security forces on the scene of the attack
COGAT, Maj. Gen. Mordechai, posted a message in Arabic on his Facebook page, saying: "Three terrorists carried out a criminal terror attack at the holy Temple Mount complex and defiled it. They came in armed and carried out a terror attack. Therefore, in the short time they have, Israeli security forces are taking measures to ensure there are no other weapons at the site. We want to safeguard the freedom of worship, and the police forces in their actions tried to do just that. This is a terror attack that is unacceptable to us, and we hope the entire Arab world condemns it clearly and decisively."
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who also arrived to the scene of the attack, called on leaders of the Israeli Arab public and leaders in the Palestinian Authority "to calm tensions and call for moderation out of concern for the safety of the public."
He pointed the finger at the Islamic Movement, saying, "They're the ones causing the tensions on the mountain" both inside Israel and in the PA.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan talking about attack
President Reuven Rivlin also called on the Arab leadership in Israel and outside it "to express a clear position against this criminal attack."
"The murderous terror attack at the Temple Mount was stopped by the courageous Israeli policemen who threw themselves in the way, and prevented an even greater disaster," Rivlin said in a statement. "We cannot allow for agents of murder, who desecrate the name of God, to drag us into a bloody war, and we will deal with a heavy hand against all the arms of terror, and its perpetrators."
“We owe a debt of life to the sons we have lost. Our hearts are with the bereaved families at this difficult time, and we pray for the recovery of the wounded," he added.
A bloody year in Jerusalem
This attack was preceded by several stabbings and shootings in the capital, as Jerusalem's Old City and its surroundings have become a focal point for terrorist activities since the beginning of the year.
In June, three terrorists armed with semi-automatic weapons and knives struck
in two different parts of Old City near the Damascus Gate, fatally wounding 23-year-old border policewoman Hadas Malka, who later succumbed to her wounds. Five others were wounded in the attack.
In May, a 37-year-old police officer was moderately wounded in a stabbing attack near
the Lions' Gate. The terrorist, Mohammad Abdullah Salim al-Kasji, a 57-year-old Jordanian citizen, arrived in Israel a week prior via the Jordan River crossing in Beit Shean. He was critically wounded in the attack.
Security forces in Jerusalem's Old City following Friday's attack at the Lion's Gate (Photo: AFP)
In April, a British student named Hannah Bladon was killed after being stabbed multiple times in the chest in a terror attack
at IDF Square on Jerusalem’s light rail route. Bladon studied at the Hebrew University as part of a student exchange program, for only one semester.
Just two weeks before that, two civilians and one police officer were moderately wounded during a stabbing attack
on Hagai Street in Jerusalem's Old City. The terrorist was shot dead by security forces after being chased by the police and Border Police.
In March, two 20-year-old border policemen were moderately wounded after being stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist in another attack
that took place near the Lions' Gate. The attacker was shot dead by one of the injured officers.
In January, four IDF soldiers—three women and a man in their 20s—were murdered
and 17 wounded when a Palestinian truck driver deliberately rammed into pedestrians on a popular promenade overlooking the Old City.
Yael Friedson, Elisha Ben-Kimon, Rotem Elizera, Elior Levy, Roi Kais and Ahiya Raved contributed to this report.