Israel begins removing metal detectors from Al-Aqsa compound: director

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 28, 2017

Israel's security Cabinet met for a second straight day Monday to try to defuse an escalating crisis with the Muslim world and find an alternative to metal detectors that had been installed a week earlier at a contested Jerusalem shrine amid widespread protests.

King Abdullah II has frequently protested Israeli measures, including restrictions on the access of Muslim worshippers and police raids of the compound to disperse Palestinian stone-throwers.

Netanyahu and his supporters said the metal scanners were needed after three Arab Israeli gunmen smuggled homemade machine guns into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on July 14, then shot and killed two Israeli policemen at the site, which both Muslims and Jews regard as holy.

Two Jordanians were killed and an Israeli was wounded in a shooting incident on Sunday in a building inside the Israeli embassy complex in Jordan's capital, Amman, police and a security source said.

Ikrema Sabri said a lawyer for the waqf - the Jordanian religious institution that runs the Jerusalem compound - would meet Israelis on Wednesday to demand the removal of the remaining additional security measures at the site, including metal railings and an iron bridge with cameras on it.

There were deadly clashes after the metal detectors were set up, which Palestinians saw as an Israeli attempt to assert control over the site.

The following year clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces around the site quickly led to unrest elsewhere in Jerusalem, across Israel and in the West Bank that have continued intermittently till now. The installation of metal detectors has contributed to the impression that Israel is changing the rules, a view rejected by the Israeli government.

After the prayers, hundreds of young Muslim men and boys started throwing rocks at the Israeli security personnel spread out across the Old City and elsewhere in Jerusalem.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed them, a move not recognized internationally.

Jews revere the compound as the place where two ancient temples once stood.

Israel cordoned off the area and banned Muslims from visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque there.

The new security measures were approved by Israel's security Cabinet at a late-night meeting, as The Two-Way reported, after "the recommendations by all of the country's security services to use other kinds of technology".

The report gives credit to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its long-time leader Mahmoud Abbas, praising him for "commitment to non-violence. disarmament of fugitive militants, arresting members of terrorist organizations, and gradually dismantling armed groups in the West Bank".

A statement issued after the security cabinet meeting said it had made a decision to heed a recommendation of Israeli security bodies and replace the detectors with "smart checking" devices. Two staffers have been released but a third remains imprisoned. Israel also considers Jordan an important land barrier on its eastern flank.

A Waqf spokesman said it was awaiting a decision of a technical committee but was demanding the situation revert to the way it was before the metal detectors were installed.

The Palestinians say that their fury - manifested in mass protests and the killing of three Israelis at a Jewish settlement on Friday - is driven by fear that their sacred mosque is under threat.

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