Israeli police on Monday prevented the Islamic Endowment that runs the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound from installing surveillance cameras around the holy site, the head of the endowment said.
Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma’an that endowment employees began installing surveillance cameras at the Moroccan Gate on Monday.
However, before they could finish, Israeli police officers prevented them from continuing and removed the cameras that had already been installed.
The actions came after Israel, the US and Jordan agreed at a meeting in Amman to install surveillance cameras across the mosque compound in a bid to ease tensions that have flared across the occupied Palestinian territory in October.
The measure was announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry after he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an that Israeli police prevented the camera installations because an official agreement concerning their installation had not yet been reached.
He said that police would “not allow any changes whatsoever to the status quo on the Temple Mount,” using the Jewish name for the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
“Any government changes or decisions made will happen in an organized way and in coordination with all relevant parties,” he said.
However, the Islamic Endowment said that Israeli police had not allowed the cameras to be installed because “Israel wants cameras that only serve its own good and not cameras that serve to show truth and justice.”
The endowment condemned Israeli intervention in the affairs of the department, reiterating that it should, by agreement, have full control over the site.
Palestinian leaders, including PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, have said that installing cameras does not address the root of the problem, which they believe is an already broken status quo at the holy site, as well as Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territory.
Large numbers of Jewish worshipers toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during a succession of Jewish holidays in September, flouting a deal between Israel and the Islamic Endowment that prohibits non-Muslim worship at the site.
Their presence, as well as tight entry restrictions on Palestinians, played a part in triggering a wave of protests that has swept the occupied Palestinian territory this month.
The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple. MAANNEWS