200,000 pray at Jerusalem mosque after stabbing attack

More than 200,000 Muslims took part in the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of annexed east Jerusalem, as Israel heightened security following a Palestinian stabbing attack.

 The religious authority in charge of the compound, the third holiest site in Islam, said in total 260,000 worshippers took part in the lunchtime prayers.

The prayers came only hours after a Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis inside the Old City before being shot dead by Israeli security.

In a separate incident, another Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank as he sought to sneak into Jerusalem, reportedly to pray at Al-Aqsa.

In Jerusalem itself, a 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed one Israeli near the Damascus Gate and another near Jaffa Gate on the other side of the walled Old City, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said. One of the Israelis was in a critical condition and the other suffered serious wounds, he said.

“Police units that responded at the scene saw the attacker with a knife. The attacker was shot and killed,” Rosenfeld said.

The Palestinian health ministry later named him as YusefWajih from Abwein village in the central West Bank. A video released by police showed a man running through the streets and stabbing two Orthodox Jews.

The Old City has been the scene of numerous stabbings of Israelis by Palestinian assailants in recent years, though a relative calm has existed for several months.

After the latest attack, gates to the Old City were briefly sealed before being reopened as thousands thronged towards the mosque.

Inside the mostly uncovered mosque compound, water was sprayed on worshippers to keep them cool in the baking Jerusalem sun, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees. Despite a heavy police presence, there were no reports of further incidents. Rosenfeld said increased security presence would “continue throughout the afternoon and evening.”