JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel Police installed sophisticated surveillance cameras at the Lion’s Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, where most Muslim worshippers enter the Temple Mount, in an effort to clear the metal detectors from the site, which has angered the Muslim community.
The new cameras installed on Saturday night, would be able to detect those carrying weapons, who could be taken aside and checked by police.
Worshippers who arrived at the site on Sunday morning refused to enter the compound due to the cameras.
The Islamic Waqf, which administers the site, rejected the cameras as a violation of the status quo. “We confirm our total rejection of the electronic gates and all new occupation measures that will lead to a change in the historical and religious status quo in Jerusalem and its holy sites, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Waqf said in a statement.
The new security measures were put into place after three Arab-Israelis shot and killed two Israeli police officers at the holy site on July 14. Since the metal detectors have been in place, Muslims have refused to enter the Temple Mount, instead praying outside of its gates, leading to clashes and the deaths of at least five Palestinians in recent days.
The Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said Saturday that he is willing to consider alternatives to metal detectors, as long as they would prevent future attacks on the Temple Mount.
“Israel doesn’t want to change the status quo, this is a clear message to the Muslim world from the Israeli government. We don’t want to change the political or religious status quo, nor the situation on the ground. The only thing we want is to ensure no one can enter with weapons again and carry out another attack,” he told Ynet.
In an interview with BBC Arabic he said: “I want to call on our neighbors in Arab countries, and on Muslims in general: If someone has an idea how to prevent another attack and promise worshipers that there won’t be more terror attacks, ahlan wa sahalan ( hello and you’re welcome in Arabic).”