Is­rael con­sid­er­ing, but hes­i­tant to lessen se­cu­rity at holy sites

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - IAN DEITCH AND KARIN LAUB JERUSALEM —

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 epi­cen­tre of the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict.

In a pos­si­ble spillover of the ten­sions, three peo­ple, in­clud­ing an Is­raeli, were wounded by gun­fire Sun­day in a res­i­den­tial build­ing in the heav­ily for­ti­fied Is­raeli em­bassy com­pound in Jor­dan’s cap­i­tal. A Jor­da­nian man later died of his wounds, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said.

The king­dom’s Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Direc­torate said that be­fore the shoot­ing, Jor­da­ni­ans had en­tered the apart­ment build­ing for car­pen­try work, the state­ment said

The Is­raeli For­eign Min­istry had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

The metal de­tec­tors were in­stalled a week ago, in re­sponse to an at­tack by Arab men who killed two Is­raeli po­lice of­fi­cers. 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.”

MAH­MOUD IL­LEAN, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Is­raeli po­lice of­fi­cers stand near newly in­stalled cam­eras and metal de­tec­tors at the Al Aqsa Mosque com­pound.

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