Israel removes metal detectors from holy site entrance

An Israeli border guard fires tear gas at Palestinian protesters near the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the occupied West Bank

An Israeli border guard fires tear gas at Palestinian protesters near the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the occupied West Bank

The spike in tensions and the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in violence on Friday and Saturday raised worldwide alarm and prompted a session of the United Nations Security Council to consider ways of defusing the crisis.

"It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday this week", Mladenov said after briefing the UN Security Council, which met to discuss how to defuse the tension.

Incensed at what they perceive as a violation of delicate decades-old access arrangements at Islam's third-holiest site, many Palestinians have refused to go through the metal detectors, holding street prayers and often violent protests. Washington has already held talks with Israel and Jordan to help resolve the crisis.

Nicolay Mladenov also warned that "the dangers on the ground will escalate" if the crisis over Israel's installation of metal detectors isn't resolved by the time of Muslim prayers on Friday. "The street says yes and we say yes; if the street says no to the measures, we will say no".

However, the director of al-Aqsa Najeh Bakirat said that keeping the cameras does not satisfy Palestinians' demands. It is also the holiest site of Judaism, revered as the place where biblical Temples once stood.

Israel removes metal detectors from Al- Aqsa Mosque
Fatah called for a "day of rage all over Palestine", while Gaza's Hamas rulers said the demonstrations should be in the West Bank. There was speculation that a separate diplomatic standoff may have helped push negotiations to remove the metal detectors along.

Israel's 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", a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

The decision was announced at the end of an hours-long meeting of the security cabinet. Cameras have been installed at entrances in a possible indication of an alternative to the metal detectors.

Israeli media earlier reported high resolution cameras capable of detecting hidden objects would be deployed.

The cabinet statement added that it had allocated up to 100 million shekels ($28 million) for the equipment and for additional policing over the next six months.

The violence began on Friday, when Israeli security forces shot three demonstrators dead, Palestinian medics said.

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The holy site in Jerusalem has served as a rallying cry for Palestinians.

The compound, known to Muslims as the Nobel Sanctuary and Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount, is located in the occupied East Jerusalem.

Jordan's position on the continued Muslim protests and the Israeli security plan was not clear from his comments.

"On top of the outbreak of violence mainly in the Jerusalem area, a move on Friday by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend security coordination, plus worldwide criticism, cranked up pressure on Israel".

Over the weekend, Jordan's efforts were complicated by a shooting at the Israeli Embassy in Amman, where an Israeli guard killed two Jordanians after being attacked by one with a screwdriver.

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A crowd of Jordanians gathered at one of the funerals on Tuesday and called on their government to close the Israeli Embassy.

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