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Al-Aqsa Metal Detectors Removed (25/07/2017)

The controversial security checkpoints installed by Israeli authorities outside of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem have been removed after inspiring a week of violent protests.

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The controversial metal detectors outside the Al Aqsa Mosque were removed on July 25 after a week of occasionally violent protests (source: Mahmoud Illean/AP)

Following the murder of two Israeli officers standing guard near the Temple Mount on July 14th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the decision to install metal detectors outside the third holiest site in Islam.

Despite immediate uproar from Palestinians Muslims and world leaders such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israel’s security cabinet permitted the metal detectors to stay in place. Peaceful protests and riots sprang up across the West Bank following the decision, leading to the deaths of multiple Palestinians, at least three Israelis, and two Jordanians in Amman.

On Saturday, those protests spread to Israel’s embassy in Kensington.

Police officers were called to the scene when a large group of protesters waving the flags of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the Islamist paramilitary group Hezbollah, and the national flags of Turkey and Syria, were confronted by counter-protesters carrying the flag of Israel. Multiple Israeli flags were burned and several of the counter-protesters were escorted off the street.

At the Ankara airport on Monday, Erdogan criticized Israel for its “disregard of the law”, saying, “Israel is harming not just itself but the whole region.”

While not technically an ally to Israel, Turkey has been a key strategic partner over the decades and was the first Muslim-majority to recognize the Jewish State. The relationship ruptured in 2010 after eight Turkish citizens were killed during the Gaza Freedom Flotilla raid. Relations were on the mend in 2016 after the signing of a reconciliation agreement, but Erdogan’s recent statements suggest this may be reversed.

“Israel is mistaken in the steps it has taken and- I will say this very openly- is heading to isolation” the Turkish president added.

On Monday evening, the Israeli security cabinet decided to remove the metal detectors, which critics condemned as an illegal move as the Temple Mount compound is technically under the authority of the Jordanian government, another key strategic partner to Israel in a hostile region.

A press release from Netanyahu’s Media Adviser said that the metal detectors would be replaced with “security measures based on advanced technologies (‘smart checks’) and other measures.” Police reinforcements would be used to keep control of the situation until the new measures are ready.

According to the Washington Post, this change of direction can be accredited to a new deal struck between Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who urged for the removal of the metal detectors via a telephone call.

UPDATE: Netanyahu responded to Erdogan^s comments on Tuesday, saying: "It would be interesting to see what Erdogan would say to the residents of northern Cyprus or to the Kurds. Erdogan is the last one who can preach to Israel."


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