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‘All new security measures removed from Jerusalem holy site’

PTI | Jerusalem |

Israeli police said on Thursday that all new security measures installed at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site after a July 14 attack and which sparked deadly unrest have been removed.

“The police returned the security measures to how they were before the terrorist attack at the Haram al-Sharif, before July 14,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP in a statement.

Muslim authorities were meeting on Thursday morning to decide whether to end a boycott of the site over the new security measures and re-enter for prayers.

A tense standoff has been underway between Israel and Muslim worshippers at the holy site for nearly two weeks despite the removal of metal detectors on Tuesday, with concerns of major unrest surrounding Friday prayers if no resolution is found.

Newly installed railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted were also removed early on Thursday from the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The compound encompasses the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The removal of the installations overnight prompted Palestinian crowds to celebrate in the streets near the site.

Israel installed the new security measures after an attack nearby that killed two policemen on July 14.

Muslims have refused to enter the site and have prayed in the streets outside for more than a week after Israel installed the new security measures.

Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control.

Israeli authorities said the metal detectors were needed because the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the compound and emerged from it to attack the officers.

Deadly unrest has erupted since the new measures were introduced, with clashes breaking out around the compound and in the occupied West Bank, leaving five Palestinians dead.