Arab protesters clash with Israeli security forces over installation of metal detectors near the Temple Mount
In recent days, Muslims, protesting the recent security measures Israel had taken at the Temple Mount, took to riots and clashes with the Israeli security personnel. A number of Israeli’s and Arabs were hurt during these clashes. The heightened tensions began on July 14, when three Arab citizens of Israel stormed the the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. The assailants were shot on site. Israel’s response was to install surveillance cameras (CCTV’s) and metal detectors outside of the Temple Mount.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urged Arabs in Israel to participate in a “day of rage” against the stepped up security measures (as if that wouldn’t make the need for the metal detectors that much more necessary). Separately, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also called for a “day of rage” in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank to protest new security measures at the Temple Mount (to protest security measures that anywhere else in the world, would have been the expected outcome of a terrorist attack).
The Jerusalem Wakf, or Islamic trust, called on worshipers to refrain from entering the compound until the detectors were removed. The Jerusalem Wakf is the branch of the Jordanian government that administers the Temple Mount and other Islamic sites in Jerusalem. In addition, a Shari’a judge declared it “forbidden” for Muslims to enter the al-Aqsa compound through metal detectors.
On Tuesday, work crews removed advanced security cameras along with metal detectors installed outside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Metal barriers that had been erected previously remained. These barriers will be used for channeling people toward the entrance gates.
There are currently CCTV’s and metal detectors at the entrance to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
How do other countries screen for terrorists at their holy sites?
In Mecca there are more than 5,000 CCTV cameras and over 100,000 people employed to provide security during the annual Hajj. Like Israel, Saudi Arabia faces terrorist threats and has upgraded its security in recent years. In June, Saudi Arabia stopped a suicide bomber who reports said was planning a terrorist attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca. In 2015 the International Business Times reported that Saudi Arabia was “issuing pilgrims with electronic bracelets” and was increasing the number of cameras. In that same year, A Dubai government source confirmed that metal detectors were set up in some mosques as a a precautionary measure in the wake of the recent bombings claimed by Daesh (an Arabic acronym for ISIS) that targeted mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. “The security bodies endeavor to provide residents with security by equipping places in the emirate with metal and explosive detectors,” the source said. The metal detectors set up in Saudi Arabia in 2015 did not prevent Muslims from praying there. There was no boycott of the mosque and there was no “day of rage” as a response. It was understood that the metal detectors were there for the worshipers protection. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that some of the Saudi Arabian worshipers even preferred the metal detectors to the threat of an unexpected ISIS explosive in their immediate vicinity.
After a suicide bomber in 2015 killed 27 people in an ISIS-claimed attack at a Shi’a mosque in Kuwait, news photographs showed metal detectors at the entrances virtually identical to those installed by the Israelis at the al-Aqsa compound.
Pictures from a number of locations on the web demonstrate that metal detectors are employed at the entrances to mosques in countries from India to Russia.
Those who are protested the establishment of the metal detectors were not doing so because they disagreed with the notion of having security at holy sites or their inconvenience over metal detectors or the disturbance of what they call the “status quo” on the Temple Mount. What they were protesting was Israel’s right to protect itself against those who wish to harm her. They were protesting what they feel should be their absolute right to move freely about Israel and without consequence, regardless of their intentions. What they fail to realize is that Israel is here to stay and we will not only defend ourselves by setting up surveillance equipment as an early warning system, but we shall also punish those that wish to harm us.