White House condemns Temple Mount attack, backs Israeli closure of site


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The White House condemned the terror attack on the Temple Mount that killed two Israeli police officers and backed Israel’s decision to temporarily close the holy site to Muslim worshippers.

“The people of the United States strongly condemn the terror attack,” it said in a statement issued Saturday, a day after the attack by three Arab-Israeli gunmen of Palestinian descent who were later shot dead. “There must be zero tolerance for terrorism. It is incompatible for achieving peace and we must condemn it in the strongest terms, defeat it and eradicate it.”

Noting the temporary closure of the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif, allowing Israel to conduct its investigation, the statement said, “Israel has assured the world that it has no intention to alter the status of this holy site, a decision which the United States applauds and welcomes. We urge all leaders and people of good faith to be understanding as this process proceeds and reaches its conclusion.”

Israel began reopening the Temple Mount to worshippers on Sunday, with metal detectors installed at the first two of the nine entrances to be opened. Prior to Sunday, only the entrance for tourists and Jewish visitors employed a metal detector.

On Saturday, the U.S. diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv released a security message for U.S. citizens titled “Continued Potential for Violence and Unrest in and Around Old City Jerusalem.”

The message noted that the restriction on entering the Old City of Jerusalem had been extended through Monday morning for all U.S. government employees and their family members “(b)ased on continued tensions and the potential for clashes in the Old City.”

“We recommend that private U.S. citizens take into consideration these restrictions and the additional guidance contained in the Department of State’s travel warning for Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank when making decisions regarding their travel in the Old City and in Jerusalem,” the statement said.

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