Is­rael re­moves metal de­tec­tors from holy site

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Jerusalem - Is­rael re­moved metal de­tec­tors from a highly sen­si­tive Jerusalem holy site on Tues­day af­ter their in­stal­la­tion trig­gered deadly vi­o­lence, but Mus­lim of­fi­cials said wor­ship­pers should con­tinue a boy­cott for now.

The Is­raeli move came in the face of in­ten­sive in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy seek­ing to stop the dis­pute over the Haram al Sharif mosque com­pound, known to Jews as the Tem­ple Mount, spark­ing wider Pales­tinian un­rest.

The gov­ern­ment said it would in­tro­duce sub­tler mea­sures in­stead to se­cure the com­pound, which houses the revered Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock, fol­low­ing a deadly at­tack on Is­raeli po­lice nearby.

A work crew re­moved the metal de­tec­tors from one en­trance to the com­pound in the early hours, and cam­eras in­stalled on over­head bridges in re­cent days were also gone, an AFP cor­re­spon­dent re­ported.

Dozens of Is­raeli se­cu­rity per­son­nel stood qui­etly out­side the en­trance, where Mus­lims have prayed for days in protest at the metal de­tec­tors.

A small group of women prayed out­side. One of them, Wi­dad Ali Nasser, said they would ‘not en­ter the Al Aqsa Mosque un­til the sit­u­a­tion re­turns to how it was be­fore... with­out sur­veil­lance cam­eras, with­out searches, with­out metal de­tec­tors’. The women later held a small demon­stra­tion, chant­ing they would sac­ri­fice ‘soul and blood for Al Aqsa’.

Is­rael’s se­cu­rity Cab­i­net took the de­ci­sion to re­move the de­tec­tors early on Tues­day.

They de­cided ‘to change the in­spec­tion with metal de­tec­tors to a se­cu­rity in­spec­tion based on ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies and other means’, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s of­fice said.

De­tails of the ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies the Cab­i­net en­vis­aged were not im­me­di­ately clear.

A state­ment from the Waqf, the Is­lamic en­dow­ments or­gan­i­sa­tion which ad­min­is­ters the com­pound, said there should be ‘no en­try into Al Aqsa Mosque un­til af­ter an as­sess­ment by a Waqf tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee and the re­turn of the sit­u­a­tion to how it was be­fore the 14th of this month’.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan urged all Mus­lims to visit Jerusalem to pro­tect the holy places. “From here I make a call to all Mus­lims. Any­one who has the op­por­tu­nity should visit Jerusalem, Al Aqsa Mosque,” Er­do­gan said in Ankara. “Come, let’s all pro­tect Jerusalem.”

Is­rael in­stalled metal de­tec­tors at en­trances to the com­pound af­ter an at­tack nearby that killed two po­lice­men on July 14.

Jor­dan in­ter­venes

Pales­tini­ans viewed the new se­cu­rity mea­sures as Is­rael as­sert­ing fur­ther con­trol over the site. They re­fused to en­ter the com­pound in protest and prayed in the streets out­side in­stead.

Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties said the metal de­tec­tors were needed be­cause the July 14 at­tack­ers smug­gled guns into the com­pound and emerged from it to shoot the of­fi­cers.

The de­ci­sion to re­move the metal de­tec­tors fol­lowed talks be­tween Ne­tanyahu and Jor­dan’s King Ab­dul­lah II, who de­manded they be taken away.

Jor­dan is the of­fi­cial cus­to­dian of Mus­lim holy sites in Jerusalem and is one of only two Arab gov­ern­ments to have signed a peace treaty with Is­rael.

It also came af­ter one of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s top aides, Ja­son Green­blatt, ar­rived in Is­rael for talks on the cri­sis and with UN Mid­dle East en­voy Nick­o­lay Mlade­nov warn­ing of the risks of es­ca­la­tion.

Fri­day’s main weekly Mus­lim prayers - which typ­i­cally draw thou­sands to Al Aqsa - had brought the dis­pute to a boil.

Clashes erupted be­tween Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces and Pales­tini­ans around the Old City, else­where in an­nexed East Jerusalem and in the oc­cu­pied West Bank, leav­ing three Pales­tini­ans dead. They con­tin­ued on Satur­day, leav­ing two more Pales­tini­ans dead.

Fri­day evening also saw a Pales­tinian break into a home in a Jewish set­tle­ment in the West Bank dur­ing a Sab­bath din­ner and stab four Is­raelis, killing three of them. The Is­raeli army said the 19 year old Pales­tinian had spo­ken in a Face­book post of the holy site and of dy­ing as a mar­tyr.


Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces take down se­cu­rity bar­ri­ers at the Lions’ Gate, the main en­trance to the Al Aqsa Mosque com­pound in Jerusalem’s Old City, on Mon­day night

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