Arab Israeli indicted for planning stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

An Arab Israeli man was indicted Thursday for allegedly planning a terror attack against security forces at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount holy site earlier this month.

Walid Abu Madiam, 20, from the predominantly Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, is accused of planning to murder a police officer or a soldier by stabbing them in the neck, prosecutors said in a statement. He was indicted for terror-motivated attempted murder and possession of a knife.

According to the indictment, Abu Madiam came to Jerusalem’s Old City with a utility knife and a screwdriver on November 6, after deciding to commit the attack and die as a “martyr.” He had also tried to purchase a knife and tear gas but it was too late at night.

Abu Madiam had told his wife the plan before heading to Jerusalem and asked her not to tell anyone, according to the indictment. She tried to dissuade him, but he warned that he would divorce her if she revealed the plan to anyone.

He called a friend and asked him to give him a ride to Jerusalem to pray. On the way, Abu Madiam’s behavior prompted the friend to ask whether he was planning an attack, and he confessed.

According to the indictment, the friend immediately stopped the car and told him to rethink his plan. Abu Madiam then claimed he had been joking and was in fact going to attack a man who had disrespected his wife. That persuaded the friend to continue.

Israeli border police officers guard at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem Old City, April 24, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Abu Madiam got off at Damascus Gate around 1 a.m., the indictment says, and tried to make his way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. His behavior raised the suspicion of police forces near the Lion’s Gate, and he was arrested and taken for questioning by police and the Shin Bet security agency.

Filing the charges at the Beersheba District Court, prosecutors requested that Abu Madiam be remanded until the conclusion of legal proceedings against him.

Jerusalem hasn’t seen attacks on security forces since August, when a Border Police officer was moderately wounded in the Old City by a Palestinian, Ashraf Hassan Atallah Halasa, 30. The assailant was shot dead at the scene, and a woman who was standing nearby was apparently hit by a ricochet and lightly injured, security officials said at the time.

That incident came amid a general lull in terror activity in the capital.

In July 2017, three men from Umm al-Fahm carried out a shooting attack at the entrance to the Temple Mount, killing two policemen. In the wake of the attack, Israel first shut the compound, and then installed metal detectors at the site, a move that led Palestinians to hold massive protests outside, ratcheting up already high tensions.

The Temple Mount is one of the main flashpoints of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The holiest site in Judaism, it is also the third-holiest for Muslims, to whom it is known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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