Israel installs cameras to holy site amid protests over security measures
Israel installed security cameras at the entrance of a holy site in Jerusalem on Sunday, a potential signal that Israeli officials are considering alternatives to the metal detectors that sparked days of protests.
The cameras join metal detectors as part of a growing security apparatus that is seen by Palestinians as an attempt by Israel to control their access to the shrine, known as Harim al-Sharif to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews.
The metal detectors were installed on July 16, two days after three Israeli Arabs killed two Israeli police officers stationed outside the site. Following the shooting, Israeli officials closed the site for the first time in decades. When it was reopened, metal detectors had been set up at five of the eight entrance gates used by Muslims.
As of Sunday, the metal detectors remain in place. Israel has yet to comment on the new cameras.
There have been nightly protests since the metal detectors were installed. On Friday, the holiest day of the week for Muslims, thousands of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israeli troops responded to the stones and firecrackers thrown by Palestinians with live rounds and tear gas. Three Palestinians were killed and dozens were wounded.
Later, three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death in the West Bank by a Palestinian attacker. At least one Palestinian died on Saturday.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced on Friday, before the cameras were installed, that he would “freeze” all ties with Israel until all security measures were removed. Top Muslim clerics called for a total boycott of the site until it was restored without security measures, saying the presence of metal detectors threatened the sacred site’s delicate stability.
Now, rather than enter Harim al-Sharif, many Palestinians are choosing to pray in the street.
The East Jerusalem site is managed by an Islamic organization based in Jordan, called the Waqf, but Israel largely maintains control of security. The shrine looms large over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sitting at the heart of the city that Israel has occupied for 50 years since it was annexed after the Six-Day War.
Palestinians have a longstanding opposition to increased security at Harim al-Sharif. Last summer, Jordan backed off plans to install security cameras to the site after Palestinian activists objected.
The UN Security Council plans to discuss the unrest on Monday.
This article has been updated to reflect that the two Israeli police officers killed on July 14 were stationed outside the shrine.