Al-Aqsa metal detectors removed; Amman embassy staff return

Temple Mount  photo: Reuters

The metal detectors and CCTV cameras installed at the entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem will be replaced by "smart technologies".

The security cabinet of the Israeli government decided last night to remove the metal detector gates from the entry to the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, Walla! News reports. Instead of the metal detectors, "smart technologies" will be deployed to assist in maintaining security at the site, at a cost estimated at NIS 100 million. Until the new devices are installed, security forces in the area will be reinforced. Closed circuit television cameras which had been installed on the Temple Mount will also be removed.

The metal detectors and cameras were installed in response to the recent attack in which two Israeli policemen were shot and killed at the site. Their installation provoked demonstrations and disturbances in Jersualem and protests from Muslim countries claiming that the measures violated the status quo governing access to the Al-Aqsa mosque. Five Palestinians were killed in the disturbances, and three Israeli Jews were stabbed to death in an attack on the settlement of Halamish in Samaria on Friday night.

The Prime Minister's Bureau said that the cabinet had accepted the recommendations of all the security agencies to replace the metal detectors with "smart checking" and other means. The budget for the new security measures will be transferred over six months, and if necessary ministries will have their budgets cut to finance it.

As the security cabinet was meeting to discuss the situation on the Temple Mount, Israel's ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein and her staff returned to Israel, following the incident in which an Israeli security guard from the embassy shot and killed two Jordanians when he was attacked in his home. The Jordanians had at first refused to allow the Israelis to leave. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US President Donald Trump for the intervention of his adviser Jared Kushner and his envoy Jason Greenblatt in negotiations to obtain the release of the embassy staff. Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan spoke by phone yesterday evening. A statement by the Jordanian government said that the king had stressed "the need to cancel the measures Israel introduced since the beginning of the crisis and the need to reach agreement between the sides to prevent similar escalation in the future." The Prime Minister's Bureau denied that the return of the Israeli security guard involved in the shooting incident was made conditional on removal of the metal detectors at the entrance to Al-Aqsa.

The Israeli government said in a statement, "Personnel from the Israeli Embassy in Jordan, headed by Ambassador Einat Schlein crossed the Allenby Bridge into Israel yesterday evening. Among the staff was the security guard who was injured last night in a stabbing attack in Amman. All are well. The return of the Embassy personnel was made possible thanks to the close cooperation that took place over the past 24 hours between Israel and Jordan."

President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement, "“After a long and tense few days, I want to welcome back home the staff of our embassy in Jordan. We waited for you with concern, and followed closely your impressive conduct throughout the crisis, under the leadership of Ambassador Einat Schlein.

“The State of Israel’s longstanding cooperation with the Hashemite Kingdom and King Abdullah, who knew to help wisely also now, played a significant part in the efforts to bring an end to the crisis, and we deeply appreciate this."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 25, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Temple Mount  photo: Reuters
Temple Mount photo: Reuters
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