Israel Bracing for Clashes Across West Bank Despite Temple Mount Resolution

IDF remains on high alert for fear of terror attacks emulating last week's murder in the settlement of Halamish

Clashes between Palestinians and the army at Khobar in the West Bank, July 22, 2017.
Nasser Nasser/AP

Despite statements made by Waqf religious trust officials that Muslim prayer will resume as normal at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday, the Israeli army is preparing for violent clashes Friday in the West Bank. The Waqf is the Muslim religious trust tasked with administering day-to-day affairs of the holy site.

Jerusalem Mufti Mohammed Hussein announced Thursday that the situation at the Temple Mount compound has been restored to its state prior to the July 14th attack, in which two Israeli policemen were killed at its entrance. Following the attack, Israeli authorities imposed increased security measures at entrances to the site, including installation of metal detectors which prompted the ire of Muslim authorities and protestors across Jerusalem and the West Bank. Now that Israel has backtracked on the measures, including the introduction of special security cameras, prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque are to resume.

Following the terrorist attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish last Friday, in which three Israelis were killed, additional forces have been deployed to the West Bank out of concern for possible copycat attacks. At this stage, the army remains on high alert, although tensions are expected to ease in light of the Waqf's statements.

According to an analysis by Israeli intelligence, the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount was the primary cause of unrest among the Palestinian population. Around 5,000 people took part in clashes around the West Bank last Friday, and calls for violence were especially prevelant on social media.  

Army officials believe that motivations to carry out violent attacks remain high and despite the removal of the metal detectors, no substantial change on the ground is yet apparent.