A man detained by Israeli police near a flashpoint mosque compound in Jerusalem grabbed an officer’s gun and fired it, prompting the unit to shoot him dead, the force said on Saturday, in a description of events questioned by Arab leaders.
The incident overnight at the edge of the Al Aqsa Mosque complex, an icon of Palestinian nationalism, came at a high point of Muslim attendance for the holy month of Ramadan.
The sacred site, known to Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, remained relatively quiet on Saturday.
The slain man was identified as Mohammad Khaled al-Osaib, 26, a resident of Bedouin town Hura in south Israel. Lawmaker Mansour Abbas, whose United Arab List party is popular there, said he was a medical student and questioned the police account.
“All we demand is the truth,” Abbas said.
Reuters could not immediately verify the police account. Police said the incident took place at a spot not covered by security cameras. Footage of similar incidents in the past has usually surfaced within a short time.
Police released CCTV of what they said was al-Osaib walking across the complex alone right before the incident, which a spokesperson said happened in “seconds,” and denied reports he had intervened in an altercation with a female worshipper.
Israeli-Palestinian tensions are simmering after months of violence in areas of Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank and friction at Al Aqsa has often set off violence in recent years.
U.S.-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in a 1967 war, have stalled for almost a decade and show no sign of resumption.