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Man shot, killed while trying to snatch police officer’s weapon in Jerusalem

Israeli security forces shot and killed a man in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday night after he attempted to take an officer’s weapon.

The incident occurred near the flashpoint Temple Mount as security forces were on alert during the sensitive Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police had stopped the suspect for a check when he attacked one of the officers, grabbed his firearm, and managed to fire off a shot, a police statement said.

The officers felt threatened and responded with gunfire, “neutralizing him on the spot,” police said.

The suspect was a 26-year-old resident of the Bedouin town of Hura in southern Israel.

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Police officials held a situational assessment after the incident and deployed reinforcements to the area.

Police said that, contrary to reports circulating on social media, there were no significant disturbances on the Temple Mount or in the Old City.

Some Border Police were involved in minor scuffles, with video showing officers wielding batons and grappling with passersby on what appeared to be an Old City street.

עימותים בין כוחות מג"ב לסוחרים בעיר העתיקה בירושלים@SuleimanMas1

— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 31, 2023

The shooting happened near the Chain Gate, an entrance to the Temple Mount holy site.

Army Radio reported that entrances to the Temple Mount had been shut after the shooting incident.

For Palestinian Muslims, worship at the site’s Al-Aqsa mosque — the third-holiest site in Islam — is a central part of the Ramadan festival. Jews revere the same site as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism as the location of the ancient Temples.

Security forces were already on alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday as tens of thousands of Muslims took part in mass prayers at the site on the second Friday of Ramadan.

Border Police deployed 2,300 soldiers in Jerusalem and its surroundings and in the West Bank, the force said in a statement.

According to official estimates, over 100,000 people took part in the prayers on the Temple Mount, including some 52,000 Palestinians who entered Israel from the West Bank.

Palestinians take part in Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, March 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Muslim holy month, which began Thursday and will end April 21, often sees elevated Israeli-Palestinian tensions, with frictions already high this year in Jerusalem and across the West Bank following months of deadly violence.

The military has eased some restrictions on movement for West Bank and Gazan Palestinians to allow women, children and some men to pray there without permits.

Last Friday, prayers in Jerusalem passed without major incident, however, police detained one man suspected of incitement for hanging the banner of a terrorist organization at the complex.

Some officials have warned that this Ramadan may be the most difficult to handle in years, as tensions remained high amid a cycle of deadly Israeli raids in the West Bank and deadly Palestinian terror attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 15 dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 86 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.