‘Smart checks’ replace metal detectors at Al-Aqsa
BETHLEHEM: The Israeli security cabinet decided at a meeting late on Monday night to remove metal detectors, recently installed at the entrances of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, only to replace them with more advanced surveillance technology in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli authorities installed metal detectors, turnstiles, and additional security cameras in the compound following a deadly shooting attack at Al-Aqsa on July 14 – sparking protests from Palestinians, who said the move was the latest example of Israeli authorities using Israeli-Palestinian violence as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory and normalising repressive measures against Palestinians.
The security cabinet said it had “accepted the recommendation of all of the security bodies to incorporate security measures based on advanced technologies (‘smart checks’) and other measures instead of metal detectors to ensure the security of visitors and worshippers in the Old City and on the Temple Mount” – using the Israeli term for the Al-Aqsa compound.
Religious leaders in Jerusalem met yesterday to discuss the new Israeli plan as Islamic endowment (Waqf) official Sheikh Raed Daana said religious leaders and the Palestinians wouldn’t accept any changes to the status quo.
Following the meeting, Waqf Council chairman Sheikh Abd al-Athim Salhab said the Waqf would issue a report evaluating the overall situation in and around the Al-Aqsa compound before deciding whether to resume prayers inside Al-Aqsa or to continue demonstrations. The plan will take up to six months to implement, and cost an estimated 100 million shekels (R364m).
The cabinet said Israeli police forces’ increased presence in the Old City would be maintained and additional officers could be hired.
Israeli news outlet Ynet said the new security measures include the installation of “smart cameras” capable of facial recognition and heat-sensing technology to detect possible weapons or explosives.
During the weekly Palestinian Authority meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah accused Israel of attempting to erase Jerusalem’s Palestinian identity. Ma’an
Israeli police officers dismantle metal detectors outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City yesterday.