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Israel removes Jerusalem metal detectors after cabinet vote

Israel is removing metal detectors from a holy site in Jerusalem and will use less obtrusive surveillance instead

25 July 2017, 8:00am
Israeli security forces take down security barriers at the Lions' Gate, a main entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City
Israeli security forces take down security barriers at the Lions' Gate, a main entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City
Israel decided on Tuesday to remove metal detectors it had placed at the entrance to a holy site in Jerusalem's Old City and replace them with smart, less obtrusive surveillance means, a Cabinet statement said.

The move came after intensive international diplomacy seeking to stop the outbreak of wider unrest caused by new security measures, with warnings that it could spread far beyond Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Israel installed metal detectors at entry points to Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem after two police officers were fatally shot on 14 July, triggering the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

The spike in tensions and the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in violence on Friday and Saturday have triggered international alarm and prompted the United Nations Security Council to convene a meeting to seek ways of calming the situation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet voted to remove the metal detector gates after a meeting lasting several hours convening for a second time on Monday after it had broken off discussions a day earlier.

A statement from Netanyahu's office said the security cabinet accepted "the recommendation of all the security bodies to change the inspection with metal detectors to a security inspection based on advanced technologies and other means".

Some 100 million shekels (€24 million) has been allocated to pay for new equipment and extra police officers, the statement said.

A work crew could be seen in the early hours of Tuesday removing the metal detectors at one entrance, an AFP journalist reported and Muslim officials said all had been dismantled.