Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Reuters)
Israel's closure of the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound to all visitors following the shooting of a Jewish hardliner is tantamount to a "declaration of war," Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday.
"This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation," his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina quoted him as saying.
"We hold the Israeli government responsible for this dangerous escalation in Jerusalem that has reached its peak through the closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque this morning," he told AFP.
The compound houses Islam's third holiest site.
"This decision is a dangerous act and a blatant challenge that will lead to more tension and instability and will create a negative and dangerous atmosphere," he said.
"The state of Palestine will take all legal measures to hold Israel accountable and to stop these ongoing attacks."
Israel ordered the compound closed to all visitors, both Jewish and Muslim, early on Thursday after an overnight shooting incident in which a man on a motorbike tried to gun down an ultranationalist Jewish activist who has long worked to secure Jewish prayer rights at the Al-Aqsa plaza.
Several hours later, police stormed the house of the suspected Palestinian gunman, sparking a gunfight in which he was killed.
Arab east Jerusalem, which was seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised internationally, has been wracked by violence since early July, with clashes erupting between Palestinians and police forces on an almost daily basis.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online.