Friday, 21 July 2017


 Israel bolstered security in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday and prepared for possible clashes with Muslim worshippers after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided metal detectors at a sensitive holy site would not be removed. 

 There have been daily confrontations between Palestinians hurling rocks and Israeli police using stun grenades since the detectors were placed at the entrance to the shrine, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, on Sunday, after the killing of two Israeli policemen.

 Muslim leaders and Palestinian political factions have urged the faithful to gather for a "day of rage" against the new security policies, which they see as changing delicate agreements that have governed the holy site for decades. 

 The Israeli police said extra units had been mobilised to bolster security in the Old City, while Muslim access to the shrine for prayers would be limited to women of all ages and men over 50. 
Roadblocks were in place on approach roads to Jerusalem to stop buses carrying Muslims to the site.

  On Thursday, there were calls for Netanyahu to back down and remove the metal detectors so as not to inflame the situation. 

 Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations' special coordinator for long-stalled Israel-Palestinian peace talks, appealed for calm and the White House urged a resolution. Jordan, which is the ultimate custodian of the holy site. 

 Detectors Stay But after a late-night meeting of his security cabinet, Netanyahu decided the metal detectors should stay.

 Far-right members of Netanyahu's government - which relies on religious and right-wing parties for support - had publicly urged him to keep the devices in place. 

 "Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy places," the security cabinet said in a statement.

 "The cabinet has authorised the police to take any decision in order ensure free access to the holy places while maintaining security and public order." Tensions around the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount have erupted into violence in the past.
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