Update as of 6:30 a.m. EDT: A driver rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians in East Jerusalem in what the Israeli police reportedly labeled an “intentional attack.” The man, who was reportedly identified as a Palestinian named Ibrahim al-Akri, was shot dead by the police, according to local media reports.
The attack came hours after fresh clashes erupted in the region, briefly forcing the closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque and Temple Mount compound. At least 14 people were reportedly injured in the incident, which is similar to an attack carried out near a train platform in East Jerusalem last month. A three-month-old baby was killed and at least seven people were injured in that attack.
The latest incident is likely to further escalate tensions in the region, which has already witnessed several clashes over the past few weeks.
The Al-Aqsa mosque and Temple Mount compound was closed off briefly on Wednesday morning after fresh clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces erupted in the restive East Jerusalem region, according to media reports.
“Police entered the area, pushed the masked rioters back, and they fled back into al Aqsa. Police closed the front gate of the mosque but did not enter,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld reportedly said.
Israeli security forces used stun grenades to disperse the protesting crowd and at least 20 people were injured in the latest spate of violence, according to local media reports. However, less than an hour after the clashes, the site, which is the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest one for Muslims, was reportedly reopened to visitors.
The clashes erupted just a day after Fatah -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ political party -- issued a “call to arms” to Palestinians living in the Occupied West Bank, urging them to prevent Israeli settlers from visiting the site, according to a report by The Times of Israel, an Israeli news website.
Wednesday’s clashes are the latest in a series of continuing conflicts between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters. The region has witnessed sporadic incidents of violence since the beginning of a recently concluded 50-day war in the Gaza Strip. However, an uptick in violence in recent weeks has stoked fears of a new Palestinian Intifada.