Israeli police close a path leading to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound after shots were fired in the Old City of Jerusalem during Ramadan on April 1, 2023. Image Credit: AP

JERUSALEM: Israeli police said on Saturday they shot dead an Arab Israeli who grabbed a gun from an officer and fired it in a scuffle in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Police said the attack took place around midnight near the Chain Gate, an access point to the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Officers stopped a suspect and, as he was being questioned, “the terrorist suddenly attacked one of the policemen”, grabbing his gun “and managing to fire it”, a statement said.

“In a swift response of the officers who were in danger and struggling with the terrorist, they shot him,” the statement said, adding medics later pronounced him dead.

The suspect was identified as a resident of Hura, a Bedouin village in southern Israel.

Passers-by reported hearing gunfire, and an AFP photographer saw scores of Israeli police deployed in the Old City at around 1am (2200 GMT Friday).

The attack occurred hours after thousands of Palestinians had packed the Al Aqsa mosque compound on the second Friday of Ramadan for peaceful prayers.

Israeli police said more than 100,000 faithful had gathered to pray at Islam’s third holiest site.

More than 2,000 police officers had been deployed throughout the city.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict had seen an upsurge of violence since the beginning of the year, raising fears of a flare-up during Ramadan.

But the past 10 days since the start of the holy fasting month have seen a relative lull in violence.