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25 Jul 2017

Israel agrees to remove Jerusalem metal detectors as crisis worsens

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet has voted to remove metal detectors from a holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

Tensions erupted after two Israeli policeman were killed by three Israeli Arabs at the site on July 14.

The UN had warned that the tensions risked spreading "well beyond" Jerusalem.

In context

Metal detectors at holy Jerusalem site cause chaos

Why the holy site is significant

Both Jews and Muslims consider the site as sacred. It is revered by Jews as the location of two Biblical Temples. It also houses the al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site. Israel has occupied the site since the 1967 Middle East war.


Why the metal detectors were installed?

On July 14, three Israeli Arabs smuggled guns and shot dead two police officers.

The perpetrators made their way into the holy site and were shot dead by Israeli security personnel.

Israel says metal detectors are needed to prevent similar attacks.

Palestinians oppose this as an Israeli move to assert its control over the site and a violation of access arrangements.

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Metal detectors led to protests and deadly clashes

Israel's decision to install metal detectors provoked violent protests by Palestinians.

On July 21, thousands protested in East Jerusalem and then occupied West Bank. Three Palestinians were killed during clashes with Israeli security forces.

On the same day, a Palestinian stabbed three Israeli civilians to death and injured a fourth at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

UN responds

UN warns that crisis could have "catastrophic costs"

The worsening crisis prompted the UN Security Council to hold closed door meetings on July 24.

The UN's Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov said it's crucial for the crisis to be solved by the end of the week.

"Nobody should be mistaken that these events are localized events," he said, adding that "They have the potential to have catastrophic costs."

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