Police to Install Facial-recognition Scanners at Temple Mount

4 million shekels allocated to the plan; Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch says metal detectors will also return to the contentious holy site.


Visitors to the Temple Mount will soon be scanned by a facial-recognition surveillance system that can pick out faces from a crowd, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced yesterday. 

Speaking after several weeks of unrest in the capital, including riots, terror attacks and an assassination attempt, Aharonovitch, the minister responsible for the Israel Police, said a metal detector would also be placed at the site.

Aharonovitch told Channel 1 News that metal detectors were removed from the Temple Mount in 2000, “and I intend to return them in order to inspect people and their personal belongings, as well as installing cameras for facial recognition.”

“We’ll use them when necessary,” he said. “Any suspect will be inspected. For crowds we’ll use cameras — we’ll increase the supervision of people entering the compound, both Jews and Muslims.”

Palestinians have brought firecrackers into the Temple Mount and tossed them at police during recent clashes.

The Public Security Ministry has allocated 4 million shekels (just over $1 million) to carry out Aharonovitch’s plan, the Walla news website reported.

Muslims enter the Temple Mount through several gates, manned by police officers and guards from the Waqf, the Islamic trust that supervises the area. They usually enter without being checked.

Problems are anticipated on Fridays and Muslim holidays, when tens of thousands of worshippers converge on the site within a short period.

Aharonovitch joined those calling for increased punitive measures against East Jerusalem residents who disrupt public order or engage in terror. He said he has asked the attorney general to look into the possibility of stripping such people of their residency rights.

“This will cancel any benefits they or their families receive from National Insurance,” he said. “They can move to Judea and Samaria.”