Israel Police shot and killed Israeli-Bedouin Muhammad al-Osaibi near the Chain Gate of the Temple Mount early Saturday, saying he attempted to steal an officer’s weapon and commit a terrorist attack.
Osaibi’s family has rejected the claim, saying he was a “normal kid, a medical student in Romania who returned for a month.” Ynet said he was 26 from the village of Hura.
A police officer who fought with Osaibi said he asked him to leave the area because the gate was closed and Osaibi began arguing with him.
“At a certain point, the terrorist turned to me, grabbed the weapon that was secured and managed to get it out of the holster and fire several bullets at the officers,” said the officer. “I managed to take control of him in a matter of seconds to take the weapon out of his hands and neutralize him, along with the other police officer who was with me. I was sure that he intended to shoot all the police officers who were operating at the scene because he aimed at the officers and shot at them, but luckily he didn’t hit anyone.”
Israel Police stated that because the incident happened behind the closed gate, it was not caught by security cameras in the area. Police published footage of the gate during the incident showing the gate closed and people suddenly running, possibly after shots were fired.
Footage of Osaibi walking on the Temple Mount was also published.
The police added that the body cameras of the officers were also not on.
Osaibi’s family rejected the claims made by police, calling on the police to get to the bottom of the incident. The family also demanded an autopsy of the body.
"All the security cameras were checked in the area and unfortunately the attack itself was not recorded on security cameras or on the body cameras of the police officers."Israel Police, Jerusalem district
“One of Ben-Gvir’s racist policemen shot him.... Soon he will shoot us too,” a source close to the family told Maariv. The family also demanded an autopsy of the body.
Osaibi’s uncle, Fathi, stated on Saturday, “This is a terrible tragedy. This is a narrative that the police are trying to whitewash. There are no videos. There is no chance that it is related to one or another incident [of terrorism].
“If the police admit that they were wrong, it will be much less painful. It’s a terrible thing, it’s a policy that will only add fire and ignite everything. We are still waiting for the body, trying to absorb everything, but the longer we delay the release of the body and hide the truth, it only increases the rage and anger,” added his uncle. “The family still does not accept it and does not digest it. This is a family of academics. What can one say to a mother after such a thing.”
The Police Investigations Department is investigating the incident.
Hamas warns of retaliation
The episode sparked outrage among Arab-Israelis and Palestinians on Saturday, with the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel declaring a strike to be held on Sunday.
“I don’t believe the police version of events,” Ra’am head MK Mansour Abbas declared on Twitter on Saturday. “This is an attempt at a cover-up, to hide the truth.” Abbas demanded that police release documentation of the incident.
Hamas warned on Saturday that the killing of Osaibi “will not go unanswered,” accusing police of a “cold-blooded execution.”
Police chief Kobi Shabtai and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir expressed support Saturday evening for the police officers involved in the incident.
Shabtai stressed that he has “no doubt” that an attempted terrorist attack was thwarted. Ben-Gvir stated that he backs the police involved and congratulated them for their “quick response.”
In 2020, an east Jerusalem resident with special needs, Iyad al-Halak, was shot and killed by police near the Old City. Halak was shot dead after fleeing into a garbage disposal room. The police officers involved in the incident claimed that he had acted suspiciously and had been flagged as a terrorist by another officer.
In the killing of Halak as well, police claimed that no security cameras captured the incident. The Police Investigations Department filed an indictment against the policeman who shot Halak in June 2021 for second-degree murder.