Jerusalem, Undefined | AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced mounting pressure Sunday over new security measures at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site after a weekend of violence left eight people dead, with fears more unrest could follow.
Israeli officials signalled they may be open to changing the measures at the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after the installation of metal detectors at entrances following an attack that killed two policemen stoked Palestinian anger.
Netanyahu was holding a cabinet meeting on Sunday morning and was due to meet with his security cabinet later in the day.
The metal detectors remained in place on Sunday morning, though cameras had also been mounted near at least one entrance to the compound in Jerusalem’s Old City — a possible indication of an alternative to the metal detectors.
Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai — head of COGAT, the defence ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories — signalled changes to the policy were possible.
“We are examining other options and alternatives that will ensure security,” Mordechai said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he would continue to support the metal detectors remaining in place unless police provide a satisfactory alternative.
The crisis has resonated internationally.
The UN Security Council will hold closed-door talks Monday about the spiralling violence after Egypt, France and Sweden sought a meeting to “urgently discuss how calls for de-escalation in Jerusalem can be supported”.
– Week of tensions –
Tensions have risen throughout the past week over the metal detectors at the compound, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, following the July 14 attack that killed two policemen.
Palestinians reject the metal detectors because they view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site. They have refused to enter the compound in protest and have prayed in the streets outside.
Israeli authorities say the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the holy site and emerged from it to shoot the policemen.
Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers — which typically draw thousands to Al-Aqsa — brought the situation to a boil.
In anticipation of protests, Israel barred men under 50 from entering the Old City for prayers.
Clashes broke out between Israeli security forces and Palestinians around the Old City, in other parts of annexed east Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank, leaving three Palestinians dead.