Israeli police closed and cancelled Friday noon prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque and briefly detained Jerusalem’s top Muslim cleric after three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers were killed in a shootout in the mosque compound. According to Al Jazeera, it was the first time in decades that the compound closed for prayers on Friday. The rare attack from within the contested Al-Aqsa compound, revered by both Muslims and Jews, raised new concerns about an escalation of violence. The ancient marble-and-stone compound – known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif – houses the Al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, and the 7th century Dome of the Rock. Al Jazeera reported that Palestinians reportedly shot at Israeli security forces near the Lion’s Gate to the Old City. “The three attackers were armed with two machine guns, a pistol and a knife, according to Israeli police.” Following the attack, Israeli police cleared the Al-Aqsa mosque and closed it for public.
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