Is­rael dis­man­tling de­tec­tors at shrine

Diplo­matic clash with Jor­dan set­tled

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - KARIN LAUB AND IAN DEITCH

JERUSALEM — Is­rael be­gan re­mov­ing metal de­tec­tors from en­trances to a ma­jor Jerusalem shrine early this morn­ing to defuse a cri­sis over the site that an­gered the Mus­lim world and trig­gered some of the worst Is­raeli-Pales­tinian clashes in years.

The Is­raeli se­cu­rity Cabi­net had met for a sec­ond straight day Mon­day to find an al­ter­na­tive to the metal de­tec­tors, which were in­stalled af­ter a deadly Pales­tinian at­tack at the holy site.

As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tos showed a worker dis­man­tling one of the de­vices at Lions Gate be­fore 2 a.m.

“The Se­cu­rity Cabi­net ac­cepted the rec­om­men­da­tion of all of the se­cu­rity bod­ies to in­cor­po­rate se­cu­rity mea­sures based on ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies [“smart checks”] and other mea­sures in­stead of metal de­tec­tors,” Is­rael an­nounced this morn­ing.

It said the mea­sure will “en­sure the se­cu­rity of vis­i­tors and wor­ship­pers” at the Al-Aqsa com­pound and in Jerusalem’s Old City. It added that po­lice will in­crease its forces in the area un­til the new se­cu­rity mea­sures are in place.

The 37-acre walled com­pound is the third holi­est site of Is­lam, af­ter Mecca and Me­d­ina in Saudi Ara­bia. It is also the holi­est site of Ju­daism, revered as the place where bi­b­li­cal tem­ples once stood.

Is­raeli me­dia ear­lier re­ported high res­o­lu­tion cam­eras ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing hid­den ob­jects would be de­ployed.

Is­rael in­stalled the metal de­tec­tors af­ter Arab gun­men killed two po­lice­men from in­side the shrine, holy to Mus­lims and Jews, ear­lier this month. The move in­censed the Mus­lim world and trig­gered vi­o­lence.

The fate of the site is an emo­tional is­sue at the heart of the con­flict be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans. Even the small­est per­ceived change to del­i­cate ar­range­ments per­tain­ing to the site sparks ten­sions.

Just a few hours ear­lier, Is­rael and Jor­dan re­solved a diplo­matic stand­off af­ter a day of high-level ne­go­ti­a­tions that ended with the evac­u­a­tion of Is­raeli Em­bassy staff mem­bers from their base in Jor­dan to Is­rael.

The cri­sis had been trig­gered by a shoot­ing Sun­day in which an Is­raeli Em­bassy guard killed two Jor­da­ni­ans af­ter one at­tacked him with a screw­driver. Jor­dan ini­tially said the guard could only leave af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, while Is­rael said he en­joyed diplo­matic im­mu­nity.

The mat­ter was re­solved af­ter a phone call late Mon­day be­tween Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Jor­dan’s King Ab­dul­lah II.

Jor­dan’s Public Se­cu­rity Direc­torate said the in­ci­dent be­gan when two Jor­da­ni­ans ar­rived at the build­ing to set up bed­room fur­ni­ture, in­clud­ing the son of the owner of the fur­ni­ture store, later iden­ti­fied as 17-year-old Mo­hammed Jawawdeh.

It said a ver­bal dis­pute flared be­tween the teen and the em­bassy em­ployee be­cause of a de­lay in de­liv­er­ing the fur­ni­ture.

The ar­gu­ment took place in the pres­ence of the land­lord and a door­man, the agency said.

“The son of the owner at­tacked the Is­raeli diplo­mat and in­jured him,” the state­ment said. It said the Is­raeli fired to­ward the teen, in­jur­ing him, and also struck the land­lord who was stand­ing nearby.

The two Jor­da­ni­ans died of their in­juries at a hos­pi­tal.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Mo­hammed Daragh­meh, Omar Ak­our and Edith M. Led­erer of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

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