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Jordan to install cameras at Al-Aqsa compound 'within days'

Palestinians walk past the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem (AFP)

Jordan said on Sunday it will set up security cameras around Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the coming days to monitor any Israeli “violations”.

In October, US Secretary of State John Kerry met Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman and endorsed a plan to install cameras at the site in a bid to calm repeated disturbances, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed.

But the Jordanian-run trust, or “Waqf”, which administers the site then complained that Israeli police had blocked it from installing the cameras.

A “control centre” will be set up to monitor round-the-clock video surveillance of the compound, Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Minister Hayel Daoud said.

The footage will be broadcast online to “document all Israeli violations and aggressions”, he said in a statement, adding that no cameras would be installed inside mosques.

Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces erupted at the compound in September amid fears among Muslims that Israel was planning to change rules governing the site in annexed east Jerusalem. 

The Israeli prime minister has said repeatedly there are no such plans.

The clashes at Al-Aqsa preceded a wave of violence that has killed 198 Palestinians, 28 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese since October 1, according to an AFP count.

The mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam after the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

It is also revered by Jews as the site of their First and Second Temples and is Judaism’s holy site.

Under longstanding rules, Jews are allowed to visit, but not pray in, the compound.

Some Palestinians have criticised the moves to install cameras, claiming it will militarise the site.

Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Palestinian Islamic Movement, called the cameras, whose pictures would be shared by Jordan and Israel, a means to enforce Israeli sovereignty over the compound.

“We reject this completely, not just because of the security implications,” he told Middle East Eye. “Muslims are not doing anything wrong by praying at the mosque. We are not making military preparations on Al-Aqsa.

“Israel has now achieved what it wants. It can observe everything that moves and can arrest anyone. It is using the cameras to enforce its own sovereignty.”

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