Rare Temple Mount Attack Causes Israeli Officials to Reevaluate Security Arrangements

Israeli security forces stand guard at the Temple Mount in Israel.
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

Rare Temple Mount Attack Causes Israeli Officials to Reevaluate Security Arrangements

What happens on the Temple Mount can affect the entire Middle East.

JERUSALEM—Two Israeli Arab police officers are dead and another injured after they were shot by Arab terrorists at the Lions’ Gate, the eastern entrance to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. The attack, launched from within the Temple Mount, sets a dangerous precedent, and Israeli official are baffled by how the weaponry made it to the site.

Shortly after 7 a.m., three young men from a northern Arab town of Umm el-Fahm approached the Lions’ Gate from inside the enclosure. Armed with a knife and submachine gun, they exchanged fire with the police before withdrawing back into the compound.

According to police and a video of the incident, the terrorists were then shot at the site, which is holy to Muslims and Jews.

Terrorist attacks have become more frequent over the past year and a half, yet attacks from within the Temple Mount Enclosure are extremely rare. This latest attack has some Israeli leaders wondering if the current security measures are enough to ensure that today’s violence is not repeated in the future.

Following the attack, Friday prayers were canceled on the Temple Mount. Police ordered the compound to be cleared while it was checked for more weaponry. Police say they are unsure how the weapons evaded the security checks that occur at all Temple Mount entrances.

The Temple Mount (known as Al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims) is the third holiest site in Islam. Although the area is controlled by Israel, day-to-day security on the Temple Mount is handled by the Jordanian Waqf. Generally, Israeli police only come into the enclosure to protect tourists visiting the site or when there is an incident like the violence that occurred today.

While the Israeli government has already indicated that it will not upset the decades-old status quo, it may be left with no choice but to heavily search all Arabs entering the site, as well as increase security measures on the Temple Mount itself.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the attack an “extremely serious event which crossed all red lines.” He also stated that there is now a need to “reevaluate all of the security arrangements on the Temple Mount and its environs.”

Such a move will likely cause a powerful response throughout the Arab world, which sees any limiting of access to the site, or even increased Israeli policing, as a Jewish attempt to reduce Arab control of the site.

Today’s attack and the forthcoming Israeli response are a powerful illustration of the extreme sensitivity of the Temple Mount area.

Trumpet editor chief Gerald Flurry has frequently reminded readers to watch Jerusalem and specifically the area of the Temple Mount, because biblical prophecy indicates events on that mount will set off a chain reaction of massive, violent events around the globe. Be sure to read his article “Why You Must Watch Jerusalem” to see why the Trumpet keeps a close eye on this small patch of earth.