On July 14, for the first time in decades, Israel closed the Temple Mount, a site holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, on a Friday—Islam’s holy day. The move was made after three Arab Israelis opened fire at the site, killing two Israeli policemen. The Muslim terrorists, Israeli citizens who had used automatic weapons that they apparently carried in a knapsack to the Temple Mount and hid at the holy site prior to the attack, were tracked down and killed by Israeli police. By Sunday, July 16, the Temple Mount had reopened, with temporary metal detectors and cameras in place to screen worshipers.
While Israelis initially considered the installation of magnometers and cameras a non-controversial step aimed at boosting security for all who pray at the site, others—Palestinian, Jordanian, and Muslim— condemned what they called Israel’s effort to change the site’s political status and consolidate control. The ensuing protests have left six dead in Israel— three Palestinian protesters and three Israeli settlers who were stabbed to death in their homes. On Monday evening, Israelis and Arab officials edged closer to a deal to resolve the crisis.
The recent spate of violence is a grim reminder of age-old tensions—and yet, in Israel, an increasingly rare one. In a region beset by war and political turmoil, Israel—and its capital—have remained relatively calm. That’s thanks in part to radical changes in counterterrorism policing led by Major General Yoram Halevy, 54, commander of the Israeli Police’s Jerusalem district. One of the force’s most experienced officers, Halevy has for the past 17 months overseen the police’s counterterrorism mission in Jerusalem, including the roughly 5,000 members of the Israeli Police and Border Police operating in the city.
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