JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly defended his decision to remove metal detectors and other security measures from the Temple Mount, calling it a difficult choice but one made with a broad view.
Netanyahu also announced at the beginning of Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting that he has authorized the reinforcement of security forces on the Temple Mount and throughout the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as instructed Israel Police and the Cabinet to approve a $28 million budget for the development and acquisition of technology in order to create new security solutions for the site.
“I am attentive to the feelings of the public, I understand those feelings, I know that the decision we made is not an easy one,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “However, as prime minister of Israel, as the person who bears the responsibility for Israel’s security, I must make the decisions with coolness and discretion. I do that out of a view of the big picture, a wide view of the challenges and threats that are facing us.”
Some of the challenges, he said, are not known to the public and he cannot detail them.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu ordered the removal of metal detectors and other security measures put into place at the entrance gates for Muslim worshippers to the Temple Mount in an effort to increase security there following the July 14 attack by three Arab Israelis that left two Israel Police officers dead. The installation of the new security measures led Muslims to stay away from the site and hold prayers at the gates, leading to clashes with Israeli security forces. Muslim worshippers returned to the site on Friday,
Netanyahu also issued a warning “to our enemies on all fronts: The IDF, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police are prepared to act with all their might against anyone who tries to harm our citizens, our soldiers and our policemen. This is how we acted and we will act accordingly.”