Israel has put Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque on total shutdown, canceling Friday prayers for the first time in almost two decades.
This comes after three suspected Palestinians opened fire against Israeli security forces near Al-Aqsa compound, killing two Israelis, before being shot dead by Israeli police.
Thousands of Muslims gather in Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, for Friday congregational prayers. This Friday, however, Israeli authorities are banning Muslims from conducting Friday prayers at the holy site for the first time since 2000.
According to news reports, the shooting took place Friday morning near the sacred site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
The Guardian reports that documents found on the bodies raised the suspicion that they were Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin.
According to Arab News, police have yet to confirm the gunmen's nationalities.
Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, claims the men were armed with several guns and began shooting at Israeli security forces near the Lion Gate.
Videos shared on social media show the gunmen being pursued inside the Al-Aqsa compound. The gunfight reportedly left all three gunmen, as well as two Israeli police officers, dead, according to Israeli police.
"Video footage shows the shooting of the Palestinian martyr #Jerusalem #Al-AqsaMosque."
In the aftermath of the incident, the area was cleared and closed down, with the police announcing that Friday prayers will not be conducted.
"Forbidding the Friday prayer is an unfair procedure," Sheikh Omar Keswani, a religious official at Al Aqsa, told Al Jazeera. "What happened earlier is now being taken advantage of by the Israeli right to impose a new reality in Al Aqsa mosque."
As per a Palestinian-Israeli agreement, Muslims have exclusive prayer rights in Al-Aqsa, as Jews are allowed to enter the compound under certain circumstances but not to pray there.
"We insist on reaching Al-Aqsa mosque and performing prayers there," the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, told Palestinian media, according to The Guardian. "The occupation preventing us from praying marks an assault against our right to worship in this pure Islamic mosque."
Many are calling for Muslims to defy the Israeli order and gather for prayers at Al-Aqsa.
"#AlAqsa_Mosque is the private property of Muslims; a mosque, a sacred symbol, and a historic center. It's a shame that we, as an Ummah, remain silent towards this oppression and allow the occupation to ban Friday prayers."