Is­rael re­moves metal de­tec­tors from en­trances to holy site

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Karin Laub and Ian Deitch

JERUSALEM» Is­rael be­gan re­mov­ing metal de­tec­tors from en­trances to a ma­jor Jerusalem shrine early Tues­day 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.

A worker was 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 Tues­day morn­ing.

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

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

Is­rael erected the metal de­tec­tors af­ter Arab gun­men killed two po­lice­men from in­side the shrine, holy to Mus­lims and Jews, this month. The move in­censed Mus­lims 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 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 cri­sis was re­solved af­ter a phone call late Mon­day be­tween Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Jor­dan’s King Ab­dul­lah II.

Me­dia re­ports had said the deal could see the em­bassy se­cu­rity guard re­leased in ex­change for the re­moval of the metal de­tec­tors.

The 37-acre walled com­pound in Jerusalem 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.

Jor­dan is the Mus­lim cus­to­dian of the site.

Ne­tanyahu and Jor­dan’s king dis­cuss the shrine in their phone call, Jor­dan’s state news agency Pe­tra said.

The king stressed the need to “re­move the mea­sures taken by the Is­raeli side since the re­cent cri­sis broke out” and to agree on steps that would pre­vent an­other es­ca­la­tion in the fu­ture, Pe­tra said.

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