Israel under fire over holy site | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 24, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:31 AM, July 24, 2017

Israel under fire over holy site

Violence leaves eight dead in Jerusalem; shooting at its embassy in Amman kills 1

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Israel faced mounting pressure yesterday over tougher security at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site as a shooting at the its embassy in Jordan raised further concerns after a weekend of deadly unrest.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident in Amman -- in which a Jordanian man was killed and an Israeli seriously injured -- was linked to the dispute over the Jerusalem compound.

But it came after new security measures were implemented at the Jerusalem holy site after a weekend of violence left eight people dead, with fears of further violence.

Israeli officials signalled they may be open to changing the measures at the Haram la-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after metal detectors were installed at entrances following an attack that killed two policemen.

Jordan is the custodian of the holy site, and in what a security source in Amman described as an "incident" at the Israeli embassy yesterday, a Jordanian man was killed and an Israeli seriously injured.

Police in Amman said there had been "a shooting at a residential building inside the compound of the Israeli embassy".

"An initial investigation indicated that three people were wounded, one an Israeli who was taken to hospital," a statement said, adding that two Jordanians were wounded and one later died of his injuries.

An investigation into the shooting was under way.

Israel and Jordan are bound by a 1994 peace treaty, but tensions have been high over the new security measures at the sensitive Jerusalem site in annexed east Jerusalem.

The metal detectors remained in place on Sunday, 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.

Tensions have risen following the July 14 attack that killed two policemen.

Israeli authorities say the attackers smuggled guns into the site and emerged from it to shoot the officers.

SECURITY ASSESSMENTS

Palestinians view the tougher security measures as Israel asserting further control over the site. They have refused to enter the compound in protest and have prayed in the streets outside.

"Since the start of the events, I have held a series of assessments with security elements including those in the field," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday's cabinet meeting.

"We are receiving from them an up-to-date picture of the situation, as well as recommendations for action, and we will decide accordingly."

Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai -- head of COGAT, the defence ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories -- signalled that changes to the policy were possible.

"We are examining other options and alternatives that will ensure security," Mordecai said in an interview with Al-Jazeran. 

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