Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 3, 2017. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to convene the security cabinet on Sunday to discuss the volatile security situation, amid signals Israel is weighing alternatives to the positioning of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount.
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, said in an interview on BBC Arabic Saturday that Israel has no interest in changing the status quo on the Temple Mount and only wants to ensure that visitors to the site do not bring in weapons that are then used for terrorist attacks, as was done a week ago.
“We have some ideas, including removing the metal detectors that are solely a security solution. We will see what existing alternatives there are,” he said.
The options being considered “will ensure security... so that there will not be another attack,” Mordechai stated, adding that Israel was willing to consider other suggestions from Arab countries.
“We are ready for another solution if the security will return,” he said. “We do not want to change the status quo, but I want to say clearly – we want to prevent another attack at this holy site. Why are the Arab leaders not saying this? Is it permitted for Muslims to bring weapons to the third-holiest site for Muslims, and to open fire?” He pointed out that metal detectors were set up at mosques in Dubai, Kuwait, Egypt and India after attacks there.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot visit Halamish (Ministry of Defense)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is expected to talk to Netanyahu regarding alternatives, including the use of full body scanners, but without conducting invasive inspections of visitors to the site, Channel 10 reported on Saturday night.
The expected security cabinet meeting on Sunday would be the second in four days.
It met late on Thursday night, and decided to leave the decision regarding the metal detectors in the hands of the police. It authorized the police to take any decision necessary to ensure free access to the holy sites, while providing security and ensuring public order. Although the police had recommended installation of the metal detectors, the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) argued for their removal, concerned that their use would ignite a new round of Arab violence.
Following that meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement saying Israel was committed to retaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and free access to the holy sites. The statement said Israel was also committed to providing security for the worshipers and visitors on the Temple Mount.
The prime minister was briefed throughout the day on Saturday about the security situation throughout Jerusalem and the territories, following Friday night’s terrorist attack in Neveh Tzur (Halamish) where three Israelis were killed.
Netanyahu issued a statement expressing “deep sorrow” at the attack, saying it was carried out by a “beast incited by unfathomable hatred.”
Security forces, he said, were “doing their utmost to maintain security and, to this end, will take all necessary measures.”
A day after violent altercations between security forces and Palestinian rioters saw three Palestinians killed in Jerusalem
and the West Bank, clashes between security forces and rioters resumed on Saturday evening around the greater Jerusalem area.
Several masked perpetrators threw rocks at policemen in the Arab-majority neighborhood of A-Tur on Mount Scopus in east Jerusalem. Israeli forces fended off the attack using riot-dispersal methods.
Near the Mount of Olives, rioters hurled rocks and glass bottles at security personnel and were dispersed, as well.
Police also said masked rioters threw rocks and rolled a burning tire down a road in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya, while in Shuafat protesters hurled rocks at security personnel.
Police said they managed to contain most of the protests, and no injuries were reported.
Joy Bernard contributed to this report.