Israel Police Propose Technological Alternative to Metal Detectors at Temple Mount

Suggested alternatives include sophisticated cameras combined with facial recognition software ■ Shin Bet warns security cabinet of rise in terror threats amid Temple Mount tensions, Jordan embassy crisis

Muslims praying in front of metal detectors outside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, July 16, 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Israeli police presented a technological alternative to the metal detectors that were installed at the entrances to the Temple Mount at Sunday night's security cabinet meeting. The metal detectors have aroused a wave of protests among Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, which have been echoed across the Arab world.

A senior Israeli official with knowledge of the content of the meeting noted that one of the alternative means proposed by the police is sophisticated cameras combined with facial recognition software.

The unfortunate incident at the Israel Embassy in Jordan interrupted the cabinet meeting several times, and in the end there was no vote on the police proposal. The cabinet will convene once again on Monday night, when they may hold a vote on the alternative plan and the removal of the metal detectors.

Q&A: Haaretz analysts answer readers' questions on Temple Mount and Jordan crises

The senior official also said that representatives of the Shin Bet security services presented the cabinet with intelligence that pointed to a significant increase in terrorist attacks warnings in the Palestinian Territories on the backdrop of the increased tension surrounding the Temple Mount.

He said that the feeling was that the alternative presented by the police together with the Shin Bet's warnings caused several ministers to change their minds and consider supporting the removal of the metal detectors. "The ministers understand that there's an alternative that could prevent friction," said the senior official.

U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met on Monday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his office in Jerusalem to discuss the crisis on the Temple Mount and the embassy in Jordan.