In a bold attack outside a site sacred to Muslims and Jews, three Arab Israelis armed with a pistol and homemade machine guns shot and killed two Israeli police officers early Friday at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The three assailants were then chased into the courtyard of the mosque complex, where they were shot and killed by Israeli security forces, authorities said.
Hours after the early-morning shootout, Israeli forces still blocked access to the mosque area because of security concerns.
The rare closure marked the first time in years that Israeli authorities stopped Muslims of all ages from attending Friday prayers at the holy site.
Israel’s domestic security service, Shin Bet, said the three attackers were Israeli citizens from an Arab town in northern Israel called Umm al-Fahm and that they shared the same last name, suggesting they may have been related.
The two dead Israeli Border Police officers were members of Israel’s small Druze community. Kamil Shnaan, 22, was the son of a former member of parliament. Hael Sathawi, 30, left behind a wife and a 3-week-old son.