New security cameras are installed on Sunday by Israel at the entrance to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site, as officials began indicating it was considering"alternatives" to the metal detectors at the contested shrine that set off a weekend of violence and raised tensions in the region.
Israel set up the new security measures last week after Arab gunmen opened fire from the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen. It said they were a necessary measure to prevent more attacks and were deployed routinely at holy sites around the world.
But Muslims alleged Israel was trying to expand itscontrol at the Muslim-administered site and have launched mass prayer protests. Three Palestinians were killed in street clashes Friday in some of the worst street violence in years, and later a Palestinian stabbed to death three members of an Israeli family.
Major General Yoav Mordechai, who heads the Israeli defence body for Palestinian civilian affairs, said Israel wasopen to alternatives to lower the tensions. "The only thing we want is to ensure no one can enter with weapons again and carry out another attack," he said."We're willing to examine alternatives to the metal detectors as long as the solution of alternative ensures the prevention of the next attack." However, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein,told the Voice of Palestine he demands a complete return to procedures that were in place before the initial attack at the shrine, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews asthe Temple Mount.
In a statement today, the Islamic institutions in Jerusalem, of which he is a part, said they "affirm the categorical rejection of the electronic gates and all the measures of occupation." Disputes over the shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews, have set off major rounds of Israeli-Palestinian confrontations in the past. On Friday, several thousand Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and in Jerusalem after noon prayers, the centrepiece of the Muslim religious week.
Three Palestinians were killed and several dozen wounded. Late on Friday evening, a 20-year-old Palestinian identified as Omar al-Abed jumped over the fence of the Halamish settlement and entered a home, surprising a family that was celebrating the birth of a new grandchild during their traditional Sabbath dinner.
He stabbed to death Yosef Salomon, 70, and his adultchildren, 46-year-old Chaya and 35-year-old Elad. A neighbour,an off-duty soldier, heard the screams, rushed to the home and opened fire, wounding the attacker. TV footage showed the floor tiles drenched in blood, and officials called it a"slaughter."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the attack as"an act of terror, carried out by a beast who was incited withunfathomable hatred." Al-Abed said in a pre-attack Facebook post that heexpected to be killed in the attack and his father said he was motivated by the violence at the Jerusalem shrine.