Israel Installs Security Cameras at Temple Mount as Violence Mounts in Jerusalem
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The death count has risen to six as tensions mount over Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount.
Now, new security cameras are being installed at the Temple Mount by Israeli security forces. The new measure will not only help officials better monitor the area, but may provide an alternative to metal detectors.
"The only thing we want is to ensure no one can enter with weapons again and carry out another attack," said Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Israeli defense body for Palestinian civilian affairs. "We're willing to examine alternatives to the metal detectors as long as the solution of alternative ensures the prevention of the next attack."
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced Friday that the Palestinian leadership will "freeze contacts" with Israel "on all levels." It is uncertain when or if communication between the two governments will resume.
Shortly after the announcement, an attacker identified as 20-year-old Omar al-Abed broke into a private home in Judea and Samaria and stabbed four Israeli civilians, killing three of them.
He was stopped after a neighbor rushed to the scene, shot at him and wounded him. He was subsequently taken into custody and brought to a hospital. His brother was taken into custody after the attack as well.
Before the attack, al-Abed made a Facebook post. In it, he wrote he thought he would be killed in the attack, and that he wanted a photo of Yasser Arafat and a Hamas banner to cover his body.
According to the attacker's uncle, Ibrahim al-Abed, the 20-year-old had been detained for two weeks by Abbas' security forces about three months ago.
Avigodor Lieberman, Israeli Defense Minister, called the attack a "slaughter" and said Omar al-Abed's home will be demolished.
Abbas' announcement and al-Abed’s attack come after days of deadly protests in response to Israel's decision to place metal detectors near the entrance of the Temple Mount. The metal detectors follow a terror attack in which three Palestinian terrorists launched an unprovoked attack on Israeli police on the Temple Mount last week, killing two officers.
While Palestinians are accusing Israel of disrupting the already tense status quo of the Temple Mount, Israeli leaders say the metal detectors are there to ensure a terror attack never happens there again.
"This is not a political issue, but a security related one," Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said. "No one is trying to change the status quo on Temple Mount, and I call on all Muslim residents to calm their spirits, avoid violence and listen to the police."
However, the Islamic Wakf, which controls the Temple Mount, says the metal detectors at the holy site are just an attempt by Israel to regain control of the Temple Mount.
"We object to these metal detectors because they seize the control we have as the Wakf to direct al-Aksa Mosque," said the mosque's director Sheikh Omar Kiswani. "This is a breach for an internal case: Al-Aksa Mosque is for Muslims – only for Muslims – and we will never accept these metal detectors."
To further complicate the situation, the Palestinian Authority and the Wakf Islamic Trust ordered Muslims to flood the Temple Mount for Friday prayers and close all other mosques in the city.
Riots broke out as Muslims began throwing stones and glass bottles at Israeli police officers.
The Police responded and three Palestinians were killed in the clashes while dozens were hospitalized.
Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Michael Oren says Abbas' government and Hamas are using the situation to fuel further violence. He also says Palestinian leaders are using the routine holy site security to raise anti-Israeli outcries.
And Robert Nicholson, president of the Philos Project, an organization that seeks to promote positive Christian engagement in the Middle East, had predicted Friday that Abbas' decision would lead to more violence.
"President Abbas's move to sever all contact between Ramallah and Jerusalem is his attempt to save face with, and protect himself from, a disgruntled Palestinian street that resents his rule. It's a signal to angry Palestinian youth to take to the street and resist Israel through violence," he told CBN News.
Outgoing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Wednesday that the US was "very concerned about tensions surrounding the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, a site holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, and calls upon the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions, to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo."
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