The White House expressed strong support on Tuesday for Israel's decision to remove the metal detectors and security cameras that were installed at Jerusalem's Temple Mount complex last week, following an attack in which two Israeli policeman were killed.
- Muslim worshippers refuse to return to Temple Mount, even without metal detectors
- High Court orders Israel Police to return bodies of Temple Mount attackers to families
- Temple Mount crisis shows that right-wing bluster is ultimately followed by capitulation
A statement released by the White House said that the U.S. applauds Israel for its decision.
"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, " the statement read. "The United States applauds the efforts of Israel to maintain security while reducing tensions in the region."
Israel's security cabinet decided during a meeting on Monday night to remove the metal detectors. The metal detectors aroused a wave of protests among Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, which have echoed across the Arab world. Security forces were seen removing at least some of the metal detectors late on Monday night.
A senior Israeli official who attended the cabinet meeting, which lasted around four hours, noted that the metal detectors "will be replaced by advanced technological means" that will enable "smart inspection" throughout Jerusalem's Old City to ensure the security of visitors to the Temple Mount compound.
The metal detectors were installed at the Temple Mount after three Israeli Arabs carried out an attack at the compound, shooting dead two border policemen. Israeli police responded by closing down the compound and canceling prayers that day. Twenty-four hours later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the metal detectors installed at the site as a security measure to prevent similar attacks.
As an act of civil protest, Palestinian worshipers refused to step through the metal detectors, and over the course of the following week, held their prayers outside the Temple Mount compound instead. The government resisted the pressure and clashes erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in which four Palestinians were killed. On Friday evening, three members of an Israeli Jewish family were stabbed to death in the West Bank settlement of Halamish by a Palestinian assailant from a nearby village.