(CNN) — Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis spiked in Jerusalem Thursday as Israel closed access to the Temple Mount, a move Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called a “declaration of war.”
Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told CNN on Thursday that the decision to close off the site, which includes the al-Aqsa Mosque, was a “brazen challenge” and “grave behavior” that would lead to “further tensions and instability.”
Israeli police said they closed the Temple Mount “to prevent disturbances” after the drive-by shooting of controversial activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick on Wednesday night.
Ofir Gendelman, the Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman for Arab media, tweeted Thursday that the closure was “temporary & meant to prevent riots & escalation as well as to to restore calm and status quo to the Holy Places.”
The Jerusalem complex is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam. Jews call it the Temple Mount and Muslims know it as Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).
Earlier, Rudeineh told the WAFA news agency, the official Palestinian news service, that Israel’s act was a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people, Palestinian religious sites and a declaration of war on both the Arab and Islamic states.”
Israeli police shot and killed a suspect in Glick’s shooting Wednesday night. An Israeli counterterror unit surrounded the house of the unnamed suspect in the shooting, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said on Twitter.