White House hails Israel for removing holy site metal detectors

Israeli border policemen install metal detectors outside the Lion's Gate, a main entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City on July 16, 2017.
Israeli border policemen install metal detectors outside the Lion's Gate, a main entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City on July 16, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House welcomed Israel's decision to remove metal detectors from a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site on Tuesday (July 25) after their installation triggered deadly violence, saying the Jewish state was "reducing tensions".

"Israel has removed the recently installed magnetometers and cameras, despite the demonstrated need to enhance security at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in the wake of the murder of two Israeli police officers at the site on July 14," spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

"The United States applauds the efforts of Israel to maintain security while reducing tensions in the region."

Israel's decision came in the face of intense international diplomacy seeking to prevent the dispute over the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, from sparking wider Palestinian unrest.

The government said it would introduce more discreet measures to secure the compound housing the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock.

It installed the detectors at entrances to the site following a July 14 attack nearby that killed two Israeli policemen.

Crews removed the detectors and installed cameras early Tuesday.

But Palestinians, who saw the new security measures as an Israeli attempt to assert further control over the site, continued their boycott on coordination with Israel.