Israeli police shot and killed a 25-year-old Palestinian near the Lion’s Gate entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City early this morning after he allegedly stabbed two Israeli police officers, who were lightly and moderately injured.
The man was identified as Ibrahim Mahmoud Matar, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Al-Mukabbir, located south of the Old City.
The shooting happened ahead of the Muslim dawn prayers, as worshipers were headed to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Police ‘controlling the situation’
Witnesses told Ma’an they witnessed a dispute inside an Israeli police post located near Lion’s Gate between an Israeli policeman and a Palestinian “who was carrying a stick”.
Israeli police then forced the young man outside of the enclosure and “executed” him at point blank range with four bullets, leading to his immediate death, witnesses said.
Referring to the dispute that led to the shooting, eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli police were “controlling the situation” and could have easily detained Matar without using lethal force.
However, a statement released by Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Al-Samri alleged that Matar entered the police post with a knife and stabbed two Israeli police officers before a third shot and killed him immediately.
According to Al-Samri, Matar had arrived to the area in his car, which he parked near Lion’s Gate. Israeli border police stopped him as he tried to walk through Lion’s Gate and led him into the police room to search him, when he “attacked” two Israeli border police officers that were inside.
A third officer was able to leave the room, and then shot and killed Matar, the police statement said.
Al-Samri said the first officer sustained moderate injuries, while the second was slightly injured. They were both taken to a hospital for medical treatment.
Following the killing, there was a heavy deployment of Israeli forces in and around Lion’s Gate and many Palestinians were prevented from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray, with witnesses saying the lockdown lasted from 04:30 until 06:00.
Later Monday morning, Israeli forces raided Matar’s home in Jabal Al-Mukabbir and detained his brother, parents and his uncle, according to locals and Israeli police.
Following the raid, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said in a written statement that Israeli police were carrying out “general security measures” in public areas across Jerusalem as celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Purim were scheduled throughout the day, and that investigations into the shooting were ongoing.