Israel removes metal detectors from holy site entrance

JERUSALEM -- Israel began removing metal detectors from entrances to a major Jerusalem shrine early this morning to defuse a crisis over the site that angered the Muslim world and triggered some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian clashes in years.

The Israeli security Cabinet had met for a second straight day Monday to find an alternative to the metal detectors, which were installed after a deadly Palestinian attack at the holy site.

Associated Press photos showed a worker dismantling one of the devices at Lions Gate before 2 a.m.

"The Security Cabinet accepted the recommendation of all of the security bodies to incorporate security measures based on advanced technologies ('smart checks') and other measures instead of metal detectors," Israel announced this morning.

It said the measure will "ensure the security of visitors and worshippers" at the holy site and in Jerusalem's Old City. It added police will increase forces in the area until the new security measures are in place.

Israeli media earlier reported high-resolution cameras capable of detecting hidden objects would be deployed.

Israel erected the metal detectors after Arab gunmen killed two police officers from inside the shrine, holy to Muslims and Jews, earlier this month. The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence.

The fate of the site is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions.

Just a few hours earlier, Israel and Jordan resolved a diplomatic standoff after a day of high-level negotiations that ended with the evacuation of Israeli Embassy staff from their base in Jordan to Israel.

The crisis had been triggered by a shooting Sunday in which an Israeli embassy guard killed two Jordanians after one attacked him with a screwdriver.

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