US welcomes Israel’s decision to remove al-Aqsa metal detectors

Palestinians walk next to Israeli security forces at the entrance of the compound in Jerusalem’s Old City July 25, 2017.

:: The White House welcomed Israel’s decision to remove metal detectors from the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday after their installation triggered deadly violence, saying the Jewish state was “reducing tensions.”

“Israel has removed the recently installed magnetometers and cameras, despite the demonstrated need to enhance security at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in the wake of the murder of two Israeli police officers at the site on July 14,” spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

“The United States applauds the efforts of Israel to maintain security while reducing tensions in the region.” The government said it would introduce more discreet measures to secure the compound housing the revered Al-Aqsa mosque. It installed the detectors at entrances to the site following a July 14 attack nearby that killed two Israeli policemen.

Crews removed the detectors and installed cameras early Tuesday. But Palestinians, who saw the new security measures as an Israeli attempt to assert further control over the site, continued their boycott on coordination with Israel.

Prayers outside

Earlier, thousands of Palestinian Muslims prayed in the streets near al-Aqsa Mosque compound Tuesday, heeding a call by clergy to not enter the shrine despite Israel’s seeming capitulation when it removed metal detectors it installed there a week earlier.

Muslim leaders said they would only call off the protests once they made sure Israel had restored the situation to what it was before the latest crisis. Some Muslim officials alleged that Israel used the absence of Muslim clerics from the walled compound in the past week of protests to install new security cameras.

The continued standoff highlighted the deep distrust between Israel and the Palestinians when it comes to the shrine. The 37-acre Haram al-Sharif compound, or the Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem, has been a lightning rod for rival religious and national narratives of the two sides. It has triggered major confrontations in the past.

Israel seemed eager to put the crisis behind it and restore calm after a week of prayer protests, street clashes and several incidents of deadly violence. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government also faced a growing backlash at home for what critics said was hasty decision-making and embarrassing policy zigzags.

Palestinian women shout slogans as they sit outside the compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 25, 2017.

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