Mount of Olives Jerusalem skyline panorama 390 R.
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Jerusalem police will open a new police station atop the Mount of Olives (Har
Hazeitim) in two weeks, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced
On a tour of east Jerusalem, Aharonovitch said 25 police
officers will be stationed there to guard against grave desecration in the Mount
of Olives cemetery and to prevent stone throwing incidents.
greatly increase the feeling of security,” he said. Aharonovitch added
that plans for the station have been in the works for over a year, in
coordination with international Jewish groups who have demanded a greater police
presence at the cemetery.
Last year, the Prime Minister’s Office began
funding security cameras
in the cemetery, a security measure which led to
arrests in recent months. Currently, the cemetery is guarded by 80 security
cameras and a private security guard firm. A total of 137 cameras will be
installed in the cemetery by the end of 2012.
In December, the
International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeitim released video
footage from the cameras, showing a man throwing bricks and trying to break a
headstone on November 29. As he left the site he was apprehended by two private
security guards and later arrested by police.
The Mount of Olives
cemetery has been used as a Jewish cemetery for more than 3,000 years and holds
approximately 150,000 graves, including the graves of former prime minister
Menachem Begin and Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook.
Jerusalem police spokesman
Shmuel Ben-Ruby stressed that the area’s importance to Jewish heritage and
tourism was the reason they will relocate the 25 police officers to the area,
located just under the main viewpoint near the Seven Arches Hotel. There are
five other police stations in east Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, Aharonovitch
toured a number of hot spots in east Jerusalem, meeting with residents of Beit
Yehonatan in Silwan, and hiking through underground tunnels from the Givati
Parking Lot excavation opposite the City of David archeological
Outside the Old City, Aharonovitch addressed the issue of the
temporary Mugrabi Bridge located in the Western Wall Plaza, which municipality
engineers claim is unsafe and in danger of collapse. Aharonovitch said that any
changes or renovations to the bridge, which is the only entrance for non-
Muslims to the Temple Mount plaza, will only be undertaken with full cooperation
of the Wakf Muslim religious trust and Jordanian authorities.