Israel security cabinet meets to review metal detectors at Temple Mount

Israel security cabinet meets to review metal detectors at Temple Mount

Ministers met in Jerusalem amid rising tensions over control of Jerusalem holy site security

Palestinians Muslim worshippers  over the age of 50 being allowed to enter the Al Aqsa compound through controversial metal detectors 
Photo by: JINIPIX
Palestinians Muslim worshippers over the age of 50 being allowed to enter the Al Aqsa compound through controversial metal detectors Photo by: JINIPIX

Israel’s security cabinet has met to review a decision to install metal detectors at a contested Jerusalem holy site.

The meeting comes after a week of escalating tensions with the Muslim world, mass prayer protests and Israeli-Palestinian violence.

The ministers met amid mounting controversy at home, with some critics saying the government had acted without sufficiently considering the repercussions of introducing new security measures at the Holy Land’s most sensitive shrine and the epicentre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a possible spillover of the tensions, a Jordanian man was shot to death and an Israeli wounded in a violent incident at the Israeli embassy in Amman on Sunday evening, a Jordanian security official and a news site linked to Jordan’s military reported.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.

The metal detectors were installed a week ago, in response to an attack by Arab gunmen there who killed two Israeli policemen.

Muslim religious leaders alleged Israel was trying to expand its control at the compound under the guise of security, a claim Israel denied.

On Sunday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, an outspoken supporter of the security measures, for the first time raised the possibility that the metal detectors might be removed, provided an alternative is found.

He said security measures at the 37-acre esplanade, with eight entry gates for Muslim worshippers, were insufficient before the shooting attack.

“We need different security measures and means for checking (those entering) there,” he told Israel TV’s Channel 2.

Mr Erdan said it is “certainly possible that the metal detectors will be removed” if police recommend a different security programme, but added that he is currently “not aware of such a programme”.

Muslim leaders signalled earlier on Sunday that they would reject any new proposal that leaves additional security measures in place.

The top Muslim cleric of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, told Voice of Palestine radio that he demands a complete return to the security measures before the shooting attack.

In a statement on Sunday, the Islamic institutions in Jerusalem, of which he is a part, said they “affirm the categorical rejection of the electronic gates and all the measures of occupation”.

Disputes over the shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews, have set off major rounds of Israeli-Palestinian confrontations in the past.

On Friday, several thousand Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and in Jerusalem after noon prayers – the centrepiece of the Muslim religious week.

Three Palestinians were killed and several dozen wounded after protesters burned tires and threw stones and firecrackers.

Israeli troops responded with live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Late Friday night, a 20-year-old Palestinian stabbed and killed three members of an Israeli family in their home in a West Bank settlement.

The victims were identified on Sunday as Yosef Salomon, 70, and his adult children, 46-year-old Chaya and 35-year-old Elad.

The elder Solomon’s daughter-in-law escaped to a separate room to shelter her young children.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the attack as “an act of terror, carried out by an animal who was incited with unfathomable hatred”.

At his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said the killer’s home would be demolished swiftly in retribution and those who incited and glorified his act would be dealt with.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that an earlier decision to freeze ties with Israel on “all levels” also included a halt to security co-ordination.

Mr Abbas has said the freeze would remain in effect until the metal detectors have been removed.

Security co-ordination, largely aimed at a common foe, the Islamic terror group Hamas, had been a constant in frequently hostile Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Ending those ties could quickly escalate tensions.

Mr Abbas has co-ordinated closely with Jordan, the Muslim custodian of the shrine.

Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel and the two countries co-operate in the battle against Islamic terrorists in the region, but frequently clash over Israeli policies at the Jerusalem shrine.

Jordan’s official ties with Israel remain deeply unpopular in the kingdom, which has a large Palestinian population.

On Friday, thousands marched in the capital Amman in an anti-Israel protest.

On Sunday evening, a Jordanian man was shot and killed and an Israeli wounded in still unclear circumstances at the Israeli embassy in Amman, according to the news site Hala Akhbar, which is linked to the Jordanian military.

The site said the Israeli was in an “unstable” condition.

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