By ANDREW FRIEDMAN
The Temple Mount compound re-opened today with expanded security measures, two days after three Israeli-Arab citizens, killed two policemen adjacent to the site on Friday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will also reconsider a plan to allow government ministers to visit the site, currently scheduled for a trial run from July 23-28.
Writing on Twitter, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said patrols in the Old City have been bolstered and closed-circuit TV cameras installed, in keeping with instructions from Prime Minister Netanyahu and security officials, but had not confirmed whether the cameras had been installed in the area of the Temple Mount compound.
In 2015, Israel and Jordan agreed under the auspices of then United States Secretary of State John Kerry to install security cameras on the Mount, but Jordan, which administers the Muslim holy sites in the Old City, pulled out of the deal in the face of Palestinian opposition.
The move comes a day after the Israel Communist Party and Hadash Party issued a tepid denunciation of Fridays terror attack in the Old City of Jerusalem, but also warned the government not to “capitalize on the atmosphere created by the attack in order to cause more damage to the Al-Aqsa Mosque” or to prayer arrangements there. Hadash leader Ayman Odeh, who also serves as chairman of the Joint List faction in the Knesset, also cautioned that the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque to Muslims could spark a “third intifada.”
“We warn the government of Israel, as well as the radical right-wing fascist groups that it rests on, not to capitalize on these disappointing developments in the Al-Aqsa courtyard yesterday and the identity of the individuals involved in the action, in order to incite against the Arab community and against residents of Umm el-Fahm, who have for decades shown their commitment to a political and public campaign,” said the joint statement, which was released to the media late Saturday night.
In addition to the statement Hadash leader Odeh also appeared Saturday night on Israel’s Hebrew-language Meet the Press. There, Odeh clearly denounced the use of violence and said he had done the same in Arabic during a speech in Ramallah earlier in the day.
Building on a theme included in the group’s media statement, Odeh denounced the shooting because “it hurts us.” He also blamed the incident on on the “occupation,” which he called the “root of all evil.” He also repeated a call for Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to confiscate illegal weapons in the Arab sector.
“Arab Palestinians in Israel are fighting to remain in their homeland by waging a determined struggle to protect their national and civil rights while at the same time being committed to the fight for a just peace, the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people to national liberation and self-determination in an independent state alongside Israel,” the statement said.