Israel considering, but hesitant to lessen security at holy sites
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.”
Israeli police officers stand near newly installed cameras and metal detectors at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound.