Is­raeli se­cu­rity Cab­i­net meets to re­view pol­icy at shrine

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Is­rael’s se­cu­rity Cab­i­net met Sun­day to re­view a de­ci­sion to in­stall metal de­tec­tors at a con­tested Jerusalem holy site, fol­low­ing a week of es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions with the Mus­lim world, mass prayer protests and Is­raeli-Pales­tinian vi­o­lence.

The min­is­ters met amid mounting con­tro­versy at home, with some crit­ics say­ing the gov­ern­ment had acted with­out suf­fi­ciently con­sid­er­ing the reper­cus­sions of in­tro­duc­ing new se­cu­rity mea­sures at the Holy Land’s most sen­si­tive shrine and the epi­cen­ter of the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict.

The metal de­tec­tors were in­stalled a week ago, in re­sponse to an at­tack by Arab gun­men there who killed two Is­raeli po­lice­men. Mus­lim re­li­gious lead­ers al­leged Is­rael was try­ing to ex­pand its con­trol at the com­pound un­der the guise of se­cu­rity, a claim Is­rael de­nied.

Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan, an out­spo­ken sup­porter of the se­cu­rity mea­sures, on Sun­day for the first time raised the pos­si­bil­ity that the metal de­tec­tors might be re­moved, pro­vided an al­ter­na­tive is found.

He said se­cu­rity mea­sures at the 37-acre es­planade, with eight en­try gates for Mus­lim wor­ship­pers, were in­suf­fi­cient be­fore the shoot­ing at­tack.

“We need dif­fer­ent se­cu­rity mea­sures and means for check­ing (those en­ter­ing) there,’’ he told Is­rael TV’s Chan­nel 2.

Er­dan said it is “cer­tainly pos­si­ble that the metal de­tec­tors will be re­moved’’ if po­lice rec­om­mend a dif­fer­ent se­cu­rity pro­gram, but added that he is cur­rently “not aware of such a pro­gram.’’

Mus­lim lead­ers sig­nalled ear­lier Sun­day that they would re­ject any new pro­posal that leaves ad­di­tional se­cu­rity mea­sures in place.

The top Mus­lim cleric of Jerusalem, Mo­hammed Hus­sein, told Voice of Pales­tine ra­dio that he de­mands a com­plete re­turn to the se­cu­rity mea­sures be­fore the shoot­ing at­tack.

In a state­ment Sun­day, the Is­lamic in­sti­tu­tions in Jerusalem, of which he is a part, said they “af­firm the cat­e­gor­i­cal re­jec­tion of the elec­tronic gates and all the mea­sures of oc­cu­pa­tion.’’

Dis­putes over the shrine, revered by Mus­lims and Jews, have set off ma­jor rounds of Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­fronta­tions in the past.

AP PHOTO

New se­cu­rity cam­eras are in­stalled at the en­trance to the Al Aqsa Mosque com­pound, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Sun­day. Is­rael in­stalled the cam­eras Sun­day at the en­trance to a sen­si­tive Jerusalem holy site, as of­fi­cials be­gan in­di­cat­ing it was con­sid­er­ing “al­ter­na­tives” to the metal de­tec­tors at the con­tested shrine that set off a week­end of vi­o­lence and raised ten­sions in the re­gion.

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