White House condemns 'brutal' attack near holy site in Jerusalem

White House condemns 'brutal' attack near holy site in Jerusalem
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The White House on Saturday condemned an attack in Jerusalem's Old City the previous day, which left two Israeli police officers dead near the city's holiest site for Jews and Muslims.

"The people of the United States are heartbroken that terrorists brutally gunned down two Israeli police officers, and we extend our prayers and sympathies to the families of the victims," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement.

"The United States strongly condemns the terror attack," it continued. "There must be zero tolerance for terrorism. It is incompatible with achieving peace and we must condemn it in the strongest terms, defeat it, and eradicate it."

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Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said three armed assailants with guns and knives targeted police, CNN reported. Police said the attackers were Israeli Arabs from northern Israel.

The armed assailants were seen on security camera footage emerging to carry out the attack in the sacred compound that Jews refer to as Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Police pursued the assailants back into the compound before exchanging fire. The assailants were shot and killed, with the area closed off.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified the slain officers on Facebook as Haiel Sitawe, 30, and Kamil Shnaan, 22, saying they were members of the Druze community, an Arabic-speaking religious minority in Israel.

"This is a sad day for our brothers in the Druze community who are paying the heaviest price in our shared duty to defend the security of Israel. I salute them and their heroism. May their memories be rooted in our hearts forever," Netanyahu said.