Palestinians threaten to smash Temple Mount security cameras

After notices warning of the destruction appear at site, Jordan states that Muslim worshipers won’t be filmed

An Israeli policeman patrols the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, October 21, 2015. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90, File)
An Israeli policeman patrols the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, October 21, 2015. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90, File)

Palestinians placed notices on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem warning of plans to smash security cameras installed at the site holy to both Muslims and Jews, which has been at the epicenter of tensions in recent months.

Jordan, which is behind the camera initiative, subsequently stated that the cameras will not be used to monitor the activities of the Muslim worshipers at the two mosques on the Mount, Channel 10 reported Saturday.

In October, US Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed a plan to install cameras at the site in a bid to calm repeated disturbances, after talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also agreed to the plan.

Abbas met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh last month to finalize plans to install the cameras.

The two met in the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss ways to “protect the status quo in the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Israel’s violations,” the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

The surveillance was to have been set up months ago. But disagreement between Jordan and Israel over what the cameras can show apparently contributed to the delays.

Israel wants cameras installed everywhere in the compound, including in the mosques, to document alleged hoarding of stones and weaponry by Palestinians in preparation for clashes with Israeli security forces. Jordan, the custodian of the shrine, only wants cameras in open areas to show alleged violations by Israeli security forces.

Masked Palestinians prepare stones inside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites, on September 27, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
Masked Palestinians prepare stones inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, on September 27, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)

In February, the Jordanian-run Muslim trust or Waqf that administers the site complained that Israeli police had blocked it from installing the cameras.

A “control center” will be set up to monitor round-the-clock video surveillance of the compound, Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Minister Hayel Daoud said recently.

Israeli security forces walk near Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount on November 5, 2014. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Israeli security forces walk near Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount on November 5, 2014. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

The footage will be broadcast online to “document all Israeli violations and aggressions,” he said in a statement, also adding that no cameras would be installed inside the mosques.

A Jordanian government spokesman announced in March the cameras would be installed “within days,” and confirmed the cameras would be restricted to open areas.

Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces erupted at the compound in September amid fears among Muslims that Israel was planning to change rules governing the site.

Israel has repeatedly denied there are any such plans.

The clashes preceded a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence, including stabbing, shooting and vehicular ramming attacks that have killed 29 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese since October 1 last year. Some 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in this period, most of them while carrying out attacks, according to Israeli officials.

Israel captured the Temple Mount, site of the biblical temples, from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed the area, but it left Jordanian religious authorities in charge of the Muslim holy sites there. While Israel controls access to the holy site, Jews are barred from praying there.

Israel and Jordan have close but quiet relations in other areas, such as security coordination against Islamic extremists. Israeli and Jordanian officials have shied away from commenting about the cameras on the record, presumably not wanting to upset the delicate ties between the countries.

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