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Two Security Forces Killed in Beit ul-Muqaddas

Muslim worshippers pray perform the traditional Friday prayers on a street outside the Lion Gate as Israeli police blocks the access to Al-Aqsa Mosque on July 14.Muslim worshippers pray perform the traditional Friday prayers on a street outside the Lion Gate as Israeli police blocks the access to Al-Aqsa Mosque on July 14.

Three Palestinians opened fire on Israeli police forces in Beit ul-Muqaddas on Friday, killing two before fleeing to an ultra-sensitive holy site where they were also shot dead in one of the most serious incidents in the city in recent years.  Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone later in the day as tensions rose over the attack and its aftermath, AFP reported.

The three attackers, aged between 19 and 29, were shot dead by Israeili police, and a body could later be seen lying on the ground near the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the holy site in Beit al-Muqaddas Old City.

Videos circulating on social media showed a hail of gunfire ring out in what seemed to be an exchange of bullets between Israeli security forces and the assailants. Security forces locked down the area and the Al-Aqsa Mosque was closed to Friday prayers after the attack in a highly unusual move. The attackers were from the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, located near the occupied West Bank.

Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948. They largely identify with the Palestinian cause.

The assailants were killed at the site known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, the location of regular clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, but where gunfire rarely occurs. In the phone call with Netanyahu, Abbas “expressed his strong rejection and condemnation of the incident at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and his rejection of any act of violence from any side, especially in places of worship,” official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

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