Hamas says target Israelis after Jerusalem site attack

Jerusalem Police Commissioner Yoram Halevy said the three gunmen - who were Arab citizens of Israel - were calculating and methodical in their attacks.

The incident was among the most serious in Jerusalem in recent years and threatened to raise Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

In spite of Palestinian, Arab and Islamic calls on Israel to reopen Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for Muslim prayers, the third holiest site in Islam remained closed Saturday for the second day in a row. The terrorists then attempted to retreat to the Al Aqsa mosque where they were killed by other Israeli police officers.

The attack took place a little after 7 a.m. local time by the Lions' Gate in the Old City walls, next to what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews the Temple Mount.

Following the attack, Israeli security forces evacuated and closed the Temple Mount, effectively canceling Friday prayers at the holy site.

He added that "management of Al-Aqsa mosque said the bodies of two Palestinians were inside the courtyard of the compound".

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said: "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".

Speaking to Israel Radio, Transportation Minister said the attack was part of a "battle for Jerusalem" and an effort to "undermining our control" of the city by targeting holy sites for attacks.

"What is going on at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings is very risky and an attempt to exploit what happened to carry out an Israeli plan prepared in advance, similar to what happened in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron", he charged.

In a statement, Al-Azhar also condemned arresting Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein and the former Mufti of Jerusalem and Imam of Al-Aqsa Ekrema Sabri.

"What happened earlier is now being taken advantage of by the Israeli right to impose a new reality in Al-Aqsa mosque", a worshiper told Al-Jazeera.

"The sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence", said Guterres. Two Israeli officers were also killed during the clashes.

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