Israeli police, on Thursday, shot dead a Palestinian man suspected of being behind Wednesday’s shooting of a right-wing Jewish activist in Jerusalem, according to media reports. The development threatens further escalation of violence in East Jerusalem, which has witnessed sporadic clashes since June.
The suspect, Mutaz Hijazi, 32, was reportedly tracked down by the police to an apartment near the scene of yesterday’s shooting, according to media reports. He had spent more than 11 years in an Israeli prison and was released in 2012, Al Jazeera reported.
“Anti-terrorist police units surrounded a house in the Abu Tor neighborhood to arrest a suspect in the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick, immediately upon arrival they were shot at. They returned fire and shot and killed the suspect,” Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesperson for the Israeli police reportedly said on Thursday, adding that Israeli authorities had no information on whether the man was affiliated to any militant group.
U.S.-born Glick was shot and severely injured on Wednesday night as he was leaving a conference promoting a Jewish campaign to permit praying at the Temple Mount -- the holiest site in Judaism. Glick is also the founder of an organization advocating for Jews to be allowed to pray at the disputed site that has been a source of frequent conflict between the Israeli settlers and Palestinians living the Occupied West Bank.
The latest clashes in the region began Oct. 13 after Israeli forces reportedly attempted to restrict the entry of Palestinian worshippers to the Al-Aqsa mosque. At least two Palestinian teenagers were killed and dozens were reportedly wounded in the ensuing riots in and around East Jerusalem.
Glick was taken to the Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem, where his condition remains “very serious, yet stable,” according to a report by Haaretz.
Following Wednesday’s shooting, Jerusalem has been placed on high alert and the Temple Mount compound, which also houses the Al-Aqsa mosque, was sealed off to all visitors -- Jews as well as Muslims -- for the first time in 14 years, according to media reports.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the move and called the closure of the Al-Aqsa compound a “declaration of war,” according to Agence France-Presse.