Israeli forces have shut down the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following an alleged stabbing attempt by a Palestinian on a group of Israeli policemen in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The attacker, a 30-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel from the town of Umm al-Faham, was shot dead by the Israeli forces, police said in a statement on Friday. No other casualties were reported.
According to local Palestinian media, worshipers were forcibly removed out of the compound by Israeli police and soldiers, who then proceeded to shut down the gates to the Old City.
In response, hundreds of Palestinians performed the early evening prayers outside the gates.
For Muslims, the Noble Sanctuary hosts Islam’s third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock, a seventh-century structure believed to be where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
Jews believe the compound is where the Biblical Jewish temples once stood, but Jewish law and the Israeli Rabbinate forbid Jews from entering the compound and praying there, as it is considered too holy to tread upon.
The compound’s Western Wall, known as the Wailing Wall to Jews, is believed to be the last remnant of the Second Temple, while Muslims refer to it as al-Buraq Wall and believe it is where the Prophet Muhammad tied al-Buraq, the animal upon which he ascended to the sky and spoke to God.