Israel removes metal detectors from Jerusalem holy site

Carla Harmon
July 26, 2017

Muslim officials said Tuesday worshippers should continue to boycott a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site, even after Israel removed newly installed security measures that had triggered deadly violence.

"Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades at the protesters, and more security forces were placed at the Lions' gate of the mosque", our correspondent said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told reporters Monday that Palestinians will stay in the streets until "all obstacles" to allowing Muslims their right to pray at Al-Aqsa are "removed completely without conditions", including metal detectors and cameras which violate the status quo.

He said a government freeze on co-ordination with Israel, including on security issues, over the controversial security measures would remain in place.

Matthew Rycroft told reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York City that it was important that the full Security Council "stands together to do what we can to help bring peace to the Middle East".

The 37-acre (15-hectare) esplanade, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, has been a lightning rod for the rival religious and national narratives of the two sides.

Following the security measures, protests have broken out across the West Bank and east Jerusalem, resulting in multiple Palestinian and Israeli deaths.

The latest development could put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a tough spot, as he tries to tamp out a wave of unrest that has triggered worldwide pressure while not appearing to his hard-line base as capitulating.

Salah Abu Agrafa, who came for prayers with his two young sons, told The Times of Israel that the new security arrangements "defiled the holy site".

Worshippers completed morning prayers outside the compound on Wednesday morning despite the Israeli authorities' decision to capitulate to Palestinian demands to remove metal detectors from the entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque.

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit has accused Israel of "playing with fire" with the new security measures, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called them an insult to the Muslim world. The compound houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Trump's Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday in the administration's first high-level, on-the-ground engagement in the crisis. An Israeli embassy guard in Amman fatally shot two people on Sunday, including a man who allegedly attacked him with a screwdriver.

The security cabinet accepted "the recommendation of all the security bodies to change the inspection with metal detectors to a security inspection based on advanced technologies and other means", a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

Jordan insisted on questioning the security guard, while Israel said he had diplomatic immunity.

Clashes have broken out during protests over the measures, leaving five Palestinians dead.

During discussions with Netanyahu, Abdullah had demanded that Israel remove the metal detectors.

Legally and logically, it is Jordan that should be entrusted with keeping safety and security in and around the holy sites in East Jerusalem, by virtue of its status as custodian of these religious places.

Other reports by iNewsToday