The Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB), alongside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Muslim Association of Britain, have called an emergency protest against Israeli aggression in Jerusalem in London and Manchester this Saturday.
According to the PSC’s Facebook page, the protest is ‘in solidarity with Jerusalem and Alaqsa Mosque. Israeli Government has closed Al Aqsa Mosque, imposed tight security check on Worshipers as part of its plans to seize the holy Muslim site.’
Firstly, the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque are no longer closed. They were temporarily closed for two days because on Friday 14 July, two Israeli Druze Police Officers, Hael Sathawi and Kamil Shanan, were killed next to the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, near the entrance to the Temple Mount, by three attackers. These attackers, were armed with Carl Gustav style automatic weapons and an automatic pistol which were smuggled into the Temple Mount compound and Al-Aqsa Mosque by an accomplice.
Following the attack, Jerusalem Police Commander, Yoram Halevy evacuated the Temple Mount compound in order for the crime scene to be properly examined. It represented the first time Israel had closed the compound on a Friday in nearly 50 years.
In order to prevent another terrorist attack, Israel has since acted with caution, opening two gates to Muslim worshipers at 1pm on Sunday 16 July and another three on Monday 17 July, fully opening the site.
The ‘tight security checks’ the PSC refers to, are the installation of metal detectors for those trying to enter the Temple Mount. These are similar to the metal detectors at the Mughrabi Gate (where non-Muslim visitors enter the Temple Mount) which were installed years ago, as well as those by the entrance to the Western Wall, which have been in place since the early 2000s.
Muslim holy sites around the world also have security measures to ensure the safety of their visitors. 6 years ago, metal detectors were installed in Mecca. Mecca also has more than 5,000 CCTV cameras and over 100,000 people employed to provide security during the annual Hajj.
Israel is as committed as ever to securing a free & safe entrance of visitors to the Temple Mt, regardless of their religion. pic.twitter.com/sqoE93GV6K
— Israel Foreign Min. (@IsraelMFA) July 20, 2017
The video above, taken from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, depicts Muslims entering through the metal detectors without a problem.
There have been sporadic scuffles between security forces and Muslim protesters who are trying to prevent other Muslim worshipers from going onto the site. Over one hundred people have been injured in clashes and firebombs, and stones and fireworks have been launched at police officers in the Silwan and Issawaiya neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has said: “We want to solve this crisis in the quietest way possible and restore calm. We talk with the Arab world and we explain that there is absolutely no change to the status quo” He has also emphasised that “the installation of metal detectors does not constitute any change in the status quo. It is only meant to prevent a repeat of an attack with weapons.”
While tensions are mounting, anger should not be directed towards extra security precautions at the Temple Mount but rather at the terrorists who violated Al-Aqsa Mosque by bringing weaponry inside. A holy place was defiled by an act of terror.
People who plan to attend the protests tomorrow, please ask yourself what you are protesting. Personally rather than protesting against security measures which save lives, I find it far more disturbing that weapons were brought into a holy site and subsequently used for murder.