A gunman on a motorcycle has shot and seriously wounded a prominent Jewish activist in Jerusalem, Israeli police and legislators say.
Moshe Feiglin, a lawmaker with the Likud party, identified the activist as Yehuda Glick, an American-born advocate for greater Jewish access to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, which houses the al-Aqsa mosque in its compound.
Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich announced on Wednesday night that the al-Aqsa mosque would be closed until further notice.
The shooting threatens to further heighten tensions in Jerusalem, which has been fraught lately with clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.
Feiglin said the shooting took place on Wednesday outside a conference promoting Jewish access to the holy site, a hilltop compound in Jerusalem’s Old City that has been a flashpoint for violence in the current tension over Jerusalem.
He said a man approached Glick outside the conference and spoke to him in “heavy Arabic-accented Hebrew.” He then opened fire at point-blank range and fled.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police had set up roadblocks and were searching for the suspect.
In recent months, clashes have erupted at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site between Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli police, over what Palestinians see as Jewish encroachment on the site, the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. Israel maintains that it allows free prayer to all, but Palestinians claim Israel is unilaterally widening access to accommodate larger numbers of Jewish worshippers.
Amid the violence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently called for Jews to be banned from the site, urging Palestinians to guard the compound from visiting Jews.