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Israel Dismantles Metal Detectors from Key Jerusalem Shrine

21st Century Wire says…

The removal of metal detectors at al-Aqsa Mosque in Ocuppied Jerusalem was part of a deal which saw Israeli diplomats and an embassy security guard repatriated from Jordan to Israel following a fatal shooting of two Jordanians on Sunday night.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut the deal this week which might de-escalate a potentially explosive situation after seven men have been killed in violence so far in and around the Temple Mount area.

Despite the draw-down, senior muslim cleric Ikrema Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, is warning worshipers not to enter the holy site, stating, “Our position is that for now, nobody should enter” the shrine.

More from the Daily Star…

Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem (Image: Mshreq News)

The Daily Star

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel on Tuesday dismantled metal detectors it installed a week earlier at a contested Jerusalem shrine, hoping to defuse a crisis with the Muslim world, including security ally Jordan, the Muslim custodian of the holy site.

The removal of the devices followed the resolution of a 24-hour diplomatic standoff with Jordan over a deadly shooting at the Israeli Embassy in the kingdom, suggesting a broader deal had been struck.

However, there were signs Tuesday that the crisis over the shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews, was not over yet.

Israel announced it would replace the metal detectors with new security measures. This would include “advanced technologies,” reportedly sophisticated cameras, and additional police deployments.

Muslim leaders had demanded that security arrangements go back to what they were before the metal detectors were erected.

Ikrema Sabri, a senior Muslim cleric, said Tuesday that Muslims should stay away from the shrine, pending a review of the new Israeli measures. The review could be completed by the end of the day.

“Our position is that for now, nobody should enter,” he told The Associated Press.

The 37-acre (15-hectare) esplanade in Jerusalem’s Old City is the third holiest site of Islam and the holiest of Judaism, once home to biblical Temples. It sits on the fault line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and triggered several major confrontations in the past.

Israel had erected metal detectors at the gates to the Muslim-administered site last week, after 1948 Palestinians killed two Israeli police guards there.

The move incensed the Muslim world, amid allegations that Israel was trying to expand control over the site under the guise of security – a claim Israel denies.

The installation of the metal detectors set off widespread protests and deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence over the past week.

Large crowds of Muslim worshippers prayed outside the shrine in protest every day, refusing to pass through the metal detectors.

Israel has denied it has a hidden agenda, portraying the metal detectors as a needed means to prevent attacks.

However, the Israeli government has come under growing diplomatic pressure in recent days to reconsider the decision. It also faced growing domestic criticism that it had acted hastily, without weighing the repercussions of installing new devices at the volatile site.

The diplomatic crisis with Jordan over the embassy shooting lent more urgency to finding a solution.

On Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II spoke by phone.

Following the conversation, the Israeli Embassy staff, including the security guard who had killed two Jordanians after being attacked by one with a screwdriver, returned to Israel from their base in Jordan…

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