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Israel Removes Metal Detectors from Jerusalem Holy Site — But Anger Remains

Israel removes controversial metal detectors from holy site entrance
 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press
Image: Israeli security forces remove metal detectors which were recently installed at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City
Israeli security forces remove metal detectors at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 25.Ammar Awad / Reuters

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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.

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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 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 Arab gunmen 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.

Image: Israeli security forces remove metal detectors which were recently installed at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City
Israeli security forces remove metal detectors at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 25.Ammar Awad / Reuters

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.

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

Israel's security Cabinet, meanwhile, announced it would replace the metal detectors with "advanced technologies," reportedly cameras that can detect hidden objects.

The Cabinet said police would increase the deployment of forces until the new measures are in place. The statement said the government would budget $28 million to implement the security plan over a period of "up to six months."

President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, met with Netanyahu before the decision was announced, a sign of the first direct involvement of the U.S. administration since the crisis began. Greenblatt then headed to Jordan.

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