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Israel says al-Aqsa metal detectors to remain in place despite deadly violence Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israel says al-Aqsa metal detectors to remain in place despite deadly violence

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City, in 1967. [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 July, 2017

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Israel said that it will not remove metal detectors at the al-Aqsa mosque on Sunday, despite a week of violence sparked by the new security measures at the holy site.
Israel said that it will not remove metal detectors at the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday, despite a week of violence sparked by the new security measures at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is due to convene his security cabinet later on Sunday to discuss alternatives, but his right-wing government is wary to be seen as yielding to pressure from Palestinians.

"They (metal detectors) will remain. The murderers will never tell us how to search the murderers," Tzachi Hanegbi, Israeli minister for regional development, told Army Radio.

"If they (Palestinians) do not want to enter the mosque, then let them not enter the mosque."

Israel unilaterally imposed the new security measures after a gun and knife attack killed two Israeli policemen on 14 July, a move seen as challenging the delicate status quo of the holy site.

Palestinians in Jerusalem mobilised en-masse against the metal detectors, boycotting entry to the al-Aqsa mosque and praying instead in surrounding city streets.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's public security minister said on Sunday that Israel may eventually remove the metal detectors subject to alternative arrangements, which are still under review.

Such measures could include reinforcing Israeli police numbers at the entrances to the holy site and introducing CCTV cameras with facial-recognition technologies.

Any substitute arrangements were still not ready, he added.

Earlier on Sunday, Israel installed new security cameras at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, as officials said they were considering alternatives to metal detectors at the site which have sparked deadly clashes.

Islamic authorities that oversee the site, including the Mufti of Jerusalem, said they would continue to reject any new Israeli-imposed security arrangements.

"We stress our absolute rejection of ... all measures by the Occupation (Israel) that would change the historical and religious status in Jerusalem and its sacred sites," a joint statement said.

Abbas issues security ultimatum

Since Friday, five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces across Jerusalem and the West Bank in some of the worst street violence in years.

Three Israeli settlers were also stabbed to death in a settlement north of Ramallah.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would halt security coordination with Israel until the walk-through metal detectors at the al-Aqsa mosque are removed, fuelling fears of an escalation.

"If Israel wants security coordination to be resumed they have to withdraw those measures," Abbas said in a speech on Sunday, referring to the metal detectors.

"They should know that they will eventually lose, because we have been making it our solemn duty to keep up security on our side here and on theirs."

Security coordination has long been a cornerstone of PA-Israel relations, largely to crackdown on Hamas and mass protests, leading to widespread hostility among the Palestinian public.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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