House of Worship or Palestinian Arsenal?

Danielle Avel is a photojournalist and investigative researcher.  She can be reached through her website www.DanielleAvel.comTwitter @DanielleAvel, and on Facebook.  © 2014 All rights reserved by Danielle Avel.


lorWhile salvaging Qurans from the rubble of the Al-Farouq Mosque in Gaza, junior imam Muhammad Hamad told the New York Times, ‘This is a house of God” – as though this proved the mosque is a peaceful place of worship.  He said this after Al-Farouq had been targeted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on July 12.  According to IDF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, intelligence indicated the mosque was used as “a Hamas rocket cache and gathering point for militants.” According to Hamad, “That charge is baseless.”

This debate conjures striking visuals – the military against the mosque, the Qurans amidst the rubble, and the young imam invoking the term “house of God.”  Media outlets eagerly perpetuate this narrative however incomplete or inaccurate.  The problem, however, starts at the very root of the story, with the mosque.  Let’s explore what a “house of God” might look like to an average person living in a Palestinian-controlled neighborhood.

Caliph Abu Bakr Mosque in Aida.  Photo credit: Danielle Avel

Caliph Abu Bakr Mosque in Aida. Photo credit: Danielle Avel

The above picture shows the Caliph Abu Bakr Mosque in Aida in “Area A” on the West Bank. Area A means Israel maintains control over external security, so Palestinians there are limited in the weapons they can amass, unlike in Hamas-controlled Gaza where Israel relinquished control of the border.  Though Israel prevents missiles from entering the West Bank, Area A is otherwise similar to Gaza in that Palestinians are responsible for their own neighborhoods – central to those neighborhoods are mosques.

The Aida mosque entryway is festooned with violent messaging that celebrates terrorists, that show all of Israel gone from the map, and advertisements for conferences that promote the caliphate (i.e., radical Islam taking over the world).

Caliph Abu Bakr Mosque main entrance in Aida.  Photo credit: Danielle Avel

Caliph Abu Bakr Mosque main entrance in Aida.  Photo credit: Danielle Avel

Note at least 7 specific examples of politicized imagery in the above photo:

1. Drawing of the word “Fatah,” the quasi-political party that rules the Palestinian Authority

2. Stylized drawing in Arabic depicting a map of Israel as “Palestine” as the final letter

3. “Fatah” graffiti

4. Remnants of an advertisement for the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir’s 2012 Caliphate Conference

5. Poster celebrating a released terrorist with common Palestinian imagery featuring a map of Israel as “Palestine”

6. Remnants of a poster celebrating a terrorist

7. Poster advertising the 2013 Hizb ut-Tahrir of Palestine Caliphate Conference

Aida mosque side entrance.  Photo credit: Danielle Avel

Aida mosque side entrance. Photo credit: Danielle Avel

The photo above shows a child walking by the side entrance of the same mosque.  Directly above his head is a poster celebrating 2 terrorists with a common slogan “throw off your chains.”  On either side of the terrorist poster are advertisements for a caliphate conference.  The wall is splattered with graffiti: “Fatah” appears frequently alongside the terms “struggle” and “Phalanxes of Martyrdom” which are calls to war.

Mosques like Aida’s are commonplace in Palestinian-controlled neighborhoods of Gaza and the West Bank: radical Islam is the norm, terrorists are celebrated, and the messaging reiterates the goal of destroying the Jewish State.

These messages, openly celebrated even on the exterior walls of “houses of God” make it is easy to comprehend how Palestinian mosques become part of their terrorist infrastructure.

Further, Palestinians have a documented history of using mosques as bases for terrorism.  A few examples:

•In 2003, Israeli police thwarted a suicide attack and located the explosives belt in a mosque in Taibeh.

•In 2003, Hamas terrorists in Hebron used their mosque’s football team as cover while they carried out a series of suicide attacks that killed 34 Israelis.

•In 2003, Ra’ed Misk, an imam of a mosque in Hebron, carried out a suicide attack that killed 23 civilians.  He was dressed in the explosives belt at a mosque in eastern Jerusalem.

•In 2008, the IDF bombed a mosque in Gaza City that was used to store missiles and explosives and was used as a launching ground for rocket attacks.

•In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, IDF forces uncovered weapons caches in mosques throughout Gaza including ones in Jabaliya, Al-Atatra, and the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City.

As for the Al-Farouq Mosque recently targeted in Gaza for being a “rocket cache” and meeting place for terrorists, it broadcasts publicly its affiliation with Hamas and its promotion of jihad on the mosque’s Facebook page.

Screenshots from the Al-Farouq mosque Facebook page.  Credit: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

Screenshots from the Al-Farouq mosque Facebook page. Credit: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

As the IDF targets terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip, more mosques will likely be destroyed.   Waiting near the rubble will be Palestinians claiming these are merely “houses of God.”  It is clear that as long as it is beneficial to use mosques as bases of terrorism, Palestinians will continue to do so – and to lie about it.  Media outlets may continue to gloss over this reality, but how long will their audiences be fooled?

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  • ArentIpretty

    I think Hamas is using the AL-Aqsa Mosque as a weapons cache.

    • El Cid

      stupid waste of space–why do this?

  • notme123

    satan’s house, not God’s

  • FrankTalk14

    Have you actually seen for yourself that the mosque served as an arsenal, or are you accepting the IDF’s claims at face value.

    • Elliott

      UNRWA states that it found a stockpile of rockets in its schools – A BLATANT WAR CRIME.
      UNRWA returns the rockets to the “Local Authorities” – ANOTHER BLATANT WAS CRIME.
      UNRWA states that a SECOND cache of rockets is located in a (different?) school. UNRWA “LOSES” these rockets.
      The IDF finds rockets stored in a mosque – YET ANOTHER BLATANT WAS CRIME.

      I’m going to believe the facts Frankie-boy: the muslims hide their weapons everywhere – even up their rear ends.

      • El Cid

        Nothing UNRWA does is independent of Hamas. They are the same people from the same families.

        The “discovery” of missiles was only a tactic to gain credibility for the UN on the street, to give the impression of independence. A very small price to pay to perpetuate a myth and to produce doubt in the mind of the Western news reader.

        This was just a prelude to launching a full lynching of Israel at the UNHRC.

      • Drakken

        Bomb those UNRWA sites and call it a day.

    • Gee

      Want pictures – really you are incapable of typing in Google mosque weapons?

      • bob smith

        he is a paid troll…one of odumbo’s army of on-line community activists paid to visit sites of real news and stir the pot among those who speak ‘frankly’.

        • FrankTalk14

          Not at all Bob. I do not care for Obama or Hamas for that matter. However the IDF and Israeli government is not blameless either. The killing of the Palestinian teen by Orthodox Jews in reprisal for the alleged murder of Israeli teens is a case in point. The Israeli government may not have openly condoned such an act, but they have created a climate of hate for the Arabs. For their part, there is plenty of hate among Arabs. I think the crux of the problem is hatred on both sides, historical grievances among both Palestinians and Israelis, war-mongering leaders on both sides, and religious fanaticism – whether among the Hamas types or ultra-Orthodox Jews.

          • Guest

            You are mistaken and probably also a paid troll. Jews want to live in peace but Arab hatred has no bounds. Jews were expelled from Arab lands and left behind their businesses and homes. They are still under attack from the Muslims.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_and_Muslim_countries

          • IslamDownpressesHumanity

            “alleged murder of Israeli teens”? “alleged”?

    • bob smith

      unless something is in your face it doesn’t exist?

      do you understand the term prima facie as applied to law?

      from merriam webster:

      Full Definition of PRIMA FACIE

      1: true, valid, or sufficient at first impression : apparent

      2: self-evident

      3: legally sufficient to establish a fact or a case unless disproved

      Frankly Franktalk, NOTHING is new insofar as Islamic terrorists using their places of worship as munitions dumps and for other nefarious activities.

      Speaking frankly Franktalk, what is your frank take on the destruction of Christian churches and the outright murder of Christians by Islamist terrorists?

      Please, feel free to type frankly.

    • UCSPanther

      I would sooner trust the word of the IDF than either Hamas or Fatah. The IDF have been caught telling the truth for a long time, while Hamas and Fatah have a proven track record of lying and doing a terrible job at it.

    • Guest

      Suppose one has actually seen it, but so what? Who would one report it to? BTW mosques function like Facebook, a real face-to-face version, in the sense that each mosque would have groups meeting in the houses of the congregation, in addition to ‘public’ meetings in the mosque, and separate groups for women and children meeting regularly every week.

    • Drakken

      Who are you going to believe? your lying infidel eyes? or the muslims?

  • El Cid

    “how long will the audience be fooled?” Well, if they hate Jews, they will be fooled forever since the hatred will blind them from any truth.

  • Gee

    Use of mosques for weapons storage is common in every country that has mosques.

    In 1967 the IDF liberated the Temple Mount. There was so much ammunition and weapons stored in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock and rest of the Temple Mount that it took 4 days around the clock to remove all of it safely. Am not sure of the tonnage, but well over 1,000 tonnes of high explosives

    • IslamDownpressesHumanity

      It’s just too bad the ammunition didn’t “accidentally” blow up.

  • bob e

    i think they should be called fire bases ..

  • http://batman-news.com John G. Gault

    A mosque is no more a house of worship than the Kremlin is one. The Facsists are destroying CHristian Houses of Worship/Churches in Mosul, so every mosque is fair game, bomb them all.

  • PP

    You could probably go to a mosque in Bradford, UK and find the same slogans, propaganda and organizing.

    • John P.

      The English have already capitulated to Islam.

      • EamonnDublin

        The above is an Islamophobic comment! They have NOT “capitulated”. They are only in the process of so doing. Give it another generation or two and then you will have to write that in Urdu so the “English” can understand it. (This comment has been checked for any “……phobic” content and is verified as being free from same).

        • Drakken

          Well you Micks had better pay attention for I is happening to Ireland as well, time to brush off those old arms from the IRA days and start turning them on the muslims in your midst.

          • EamonnDublin

            Now now, Drakken, Why do you have to go and spoil yourself again by attempting to throw around gratuitous insults? “Micks”? I actually agree with you about Ireland – and I wasn’t trying to insult the English, for whom I have a great deal of respect. What I was saying is what I consider to be fact – and Ireland won’t be far behind. We ALL need to wake up. Éamonn.

  • fpm

    Both, it’s house of worship (of death, of genocide, of terror). When hearing from them (and the leftists), just add the missing words and the sentence will be complete.

  • zoomie

    as i understand it, ISIS has blown up over 10 shia mosques. whisky tango foxtrot

    • ebonystone

      That’s because ISIS knows very well what mosques are used for.

  • DontMessWithAmerica

    The majority of mosques throughout the world are centers for Jihadists to plan their evil deeds and store their arms. If Christianity ever wakes up and launches another crusade, mosques must become the first targets.

  • Victoria

    ” junior imam Muhammad Hamad told the New York Times, ‘This is a house of God’” i think he likely said “this is a house of allah” — allah is not God!

  • Hard Little Machine

    Islam never makes that distinction between those two things. They’re the same.

  • Geppetto

    “………..how long will their audiences be fooled? Apparently for a very long time because they are not “fooled”; they’re indoctrinated and all the proof in the world will not sway them from what they’ve been brainwashed to believe. What supports that belief, no matter how crude, evasive or blatantly untrue is accepted without question. All else must be absolute lies no matter how conclusive or obvious the facts.

    But there is a solution, perhaps the only solution open to Israel. Ignore the blaring, widely disseminated acts of violent condemnation and go about the business of protecting its own interests. Blow these Hamas bastards off the map….decisively. Annihilation. Extinction. No f—king mercy. In other words, do to Hamas what they and their supporters have every intention of doing to the Jews and Israel and the opinion of the so called civilized west, as epitomized by the Obama regime, be damned.

  • gfmucci

    The Islamic form of “worship” is to take action, fight, terrorize, etc. The Christian form of worship is to sit, pray, tolerate, give money and hope someone will do something.

    • IslamDownpressesHumanity

      Muslimes found terrorist organizations. Jews and Christians found charitable organisations that feed and clothe the poor and hospitals that cure the sick and dying.

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  • MikeNZ

    So What were the 200 Hamas gunmen going to do with the syringes and handcuffs on September 24th when they invaded Israel?

    Were they stored in a mosque before they entered the tunnels?

  • Michael Copeland

    “Every single mosque in the world, by definition, is modeled on the mosque of Muhammad in Medina …..a place where he gave judgments, where he decided who would be executed … where Jihad war strategies were designed…. a storage place for arms, a military training base, and… where troops were blessed and dispatched.”
    Sam Solomon, former professor of Sharia law
    http://vladtepesblog.com/2010/08/01/ner-what-is-a-mosque-interview-with-sam-solomon/