Israel removes Jerusalem metal detectors, Palestinians reject new measures
JERUSALEMIsrael removed metal detectors from entrances to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 25 in favor of CCTV cameras, hoping to calm days of violence, but Palestinians said the modified security measures were still unacceptable.
Israel installed the detectors at entry points to Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem after two police guards were fatally shot on July 14, setting off the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.
The spike in tensions and the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in violence on July 21 and 22 raised international alarm and prompted a session of the United Nations Security Council to consider ways of defusing the crisis.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the senior Muslim cleric who oversees Al-Aqsa compound both turned down the new Israeli measures and demanded all of them be removed.
“We reject all obstacles that hinder freedom of worship and we demand the return to the situation where things stood before July 14,” Hamdallah told his cabinet in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Waqf, the religious body that runs the Islamic sites in the Al-Aqsa compound, said worshippers would continue to stay away from the elevated, marble-and-stone plaza and pray in the streets outside.
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 July 14, when the metal detectors were installed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet of senior ministers voted to remove the metal detector gates early on July 25 after a meeting lasting several hours.