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Israel installs security cameras near Jerusalem’s holy site

Israel has placed CCTV cameras near an entrance to a holy site in Jerusalem as tensions over security measures there continue.

Metal detectors installed after two Israeli policemen were killed have sparked protests by Palestinians.

It remains unclear if the metal detectors will be removed.

Tensions over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, have surged in recent days, with further deaths.

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.

The area, in East Jerusalem, has been under Israeli occupation since the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel says that three Israeli Arabs who carried out the 14 July shooting near the compound were able to smuggle guns inside and that metal detectors are needed to stop similar attacks. Police chased the attackers into the site afterwards and shot them dead.

But Palestinians strongly object to the installation of metal detectors. They see it as a move by Israel to assert more control over the sacred site and as a violation of longstanding access arrangements.

Many Palestinians have prayed in the streets instead of going through the metal detectors.

Three Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces on Friday as thousands protested in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Later three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank by a Palestinian who entered a home.

At least one Palestinian also died during clashes on Saturday, according to the Palestinian health ministry. It identified him as 17-year-old Oday Nawajaa.

What is significant about the cameras?

There has been speculation that they are meant to replace the metal detectors, but Israeli security sources have been quoted as saying that is not the case.

Palestinian officials are yet to react to their installation.

So will the metal detectors stay?

It is difficult to say but some senior officials from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have suggested they will.

Yet Major General Yoav Mordechai, a top official, has called on the Muslim world to put forward other suggestions to secure the site.

And Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erdan has said that the metal detector checks for all Muslims could eventually be replaced with different measures, including more police officers and security cameras with facial recognition technology.

Analysts say the government does not want to be seen as buckling to Palestinian pressure.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered a freezing of all contact with Israel while the metal detectors remain in place, although it is unclear whether this will extend to security co-operation.

Meanwhile, the Muslim authorities overseeing the Al-Aqsa mosque say they reject any change to the status quo.

Israel insists the measure does not alter the delicate set of arrangements governing the site for the past 50 years.

And how has the international community reacted?

On Sunday, the Arab League – a regional association of countries – said Israel was “playing with fire” and that “no Arab or Muslim will accept violations” against holy sites in Jerusalem.

Pope Francis, speaking to pilgrims in Vatican City’s St Peter’s Square on Sunday, said he was “following with trepidation the grave tension and violence of recent days in Jerusalem” and called for moderation and dialogue.

The White House has said it is “very concerned” about the tensions surrounding the holy site and is reported to be working with Israel and Jordan, which sponsors the Islamic institution which administers the compound, to find a way to defuse the crisis.

The UN Security Council will discuss the crisis on Monday (today).

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