Border Police officer at Damascus Gate
Border Police officer at Damascus Gate Nati Shohat/Flash 90

Israel's police force has voiced its "regret" over an incident earlier Tuesday in which a senior Washington Post reporter was briefly detained in Jerusalem.

WaPo Jerusalem Bureau Chief William Booth was detained along with an Arab journalist at the Old City's Damascus Gate, after a member of the public lodged a complain with police, claiming they had been encouraging Arab youths to riot.

The pair were detained for around 40 minutes, and released after it was ascertained that the report had been baseless.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry had said it would ask Israel Police to issue a clarification on the incident, which it said was the result of a misunderstanding. Damascus Gate is a particularly sensitive site, and Border Police stationed there are on high alert as Arab terrorists carry out regular stabbing attacks - including one just hours prior to the incident in question.

Later Tuesday evening, Israel Police issued the following statement:

"Regarding the detaining and questioning of a Washington Post correspondent, we would like to make it clear that following an inquiry into the circumstances of the event it has been ascertained that the information which had been given to the officers was without foundation.

"We regret if any distress was caused to those who were detained.

"The police are aware of the need for sensitivity and officers are instructed to allow journalists to do their work including in centers of friction that are especially sensitive due to the security situation, with emphasis on the public peace and the security of the journalists themselves while honoring and realizing the important value of freedom of the press."

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