Al-Aqsa Is Not Now, and Never Was, ‘Under Threat’ From Israel

What the British used to call “the vivid oriental imagination” is at work.

Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian Authority all agree: Al-Aqsa Mosque has recently been “under threat” because those wild-eyed Israeli “settlers” – madmen all – were about to engage in the ritual slaughter of a lamb on top of the Temple Mount, as part of a diabolical effort to take over Al-Aqsa, bit by bit, and convert it to a synagogue. Those Palestinians, and especially the terrorists among them, have a rich fantasy life, what the British in the Middle East used to drily call “the vivid oriental imagination.”

A report by Nadav Shragai on the Palestinians exploiting the Temple Mount conflict as an excuse for another war with Israel can be found here: “Al-Aqsa Mosque is by no means under threat,” by Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom, April 17, 2022:

Hamas is trying—and may succeed—in dragging Israel into a conflict on multiple fronts, with the Temple Mount serving as the trigger, exactly as was the case in April 2021. This time, as on previous occasions, the cry is the modern blood libel that “Al-Aqsa is under threat.”For more than a week now, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have been spreading online stories about how a ritual Passover sacrifice will be carried out on the Temple Mount this year.

They’re knowingly lying now, just as they were in the past. They know the Temple Mount’s history over the last 55 yearsThey know that Israel has never allowed such a ritual to be performed. Moreover, via a number of channels, including Jordanian, Egyptian and American, the Palestinians—the radical Muslims among them—have received clarification that this year, too, no such ritual will be allowed to take place.

Ever since Israel took possession of the Temple Mount in 1967, it has forbidden Jews from making a ritual sacrifice of a lamb at Passover. This year was no different from the previous 54. When Raphael Morris, the leader of the fringe group Returning to the Mount, announced that the group would this year be offering NS 10000 (about $3,091 USD) to anyone who would perform the Pascal lamb sacrifice on Friday, April 15, the Israeli authorities raided his house, took away the lamb tethered inside, and prohibited him not only from visiting the Mount, but from getting anywhere near the Old City. There was never the slightest chance that the Jewish ritual sacrifice would take place. You wouldn’t know that, however, from the hysteria about such a possibility coming – still – from the Palestinians.

But Hamas and their ilk chose to ignore this and set the Temple Mount on fire because such a conflagration—geared to once again suck in Arab Israelis and pour gasoline on the already burning fire of terrorism—suits them at this time.

At this time, Hamas is not prepared for, and does not want, to fight the Israelis in Gaza. Instead it is trying to stir up trouble – incite violence – among the Palestinians in PA-ruled parts of the West Bank and among the Israeli Arabs. Spreading alarm about supposed Israeli threats to Al-Aqsa is the easiest way to rouse the Palestinians, and Israeli Arabs, to violence. 

The police have thus far been gentle, initially proposing that Waqf officials try to disperse the rioters themselves. This was a miske. Even if it wanted to—and it doesn’t—the Waqf is incapable of confronting Hamas. Some senior Waqf officials were and perhaps remain connected to Hamas.

So eager were the Israelis not to have to suppress the rioters themselves – they were trying to avoid a confrontation, not to create one, with the Arabs – that they suggested that the Jordanians, whose Waqf administers the mosque site, take charge of dispersing the rioters who were throwing rocks and other objects at the Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall. The Waqf refused, and the Israeli police, reluctantly, took on the messy task. It wasn’t easy; on Friday, April 15, the first day of the rioting, it took six hours to suppress the maddened Allahu-akbaring rioters.

Preparations for the riots and clashes, the largest seen since the IDF’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls” in the Gaza Strip last May, began on Thursday night and were carried out in the open. The stockpiles of rocks, bottles and explosives should have been confiscated the moment they began to pile up, and the rioters should have been pulled off the Temple Mount before, and not after, the riots began.

There was nothing hidden about the rioters’ plans. The day before the riots started, the weapons – rocks, bottles, explosives — were openly being piled up, ready for use the next day. Israel Hayom’s Nadav Shragai wonders why, at that point, the police did not confiscate those weapons before any of them could be used. Did the police think that if they tried to seize those weapons, the Arabs would certainly respond violently, using whatever weapons they already had in their possession, in order to prevent the whole stockpile from being confiscated? Perhaps the police thought that if they waited, perhaps calmer heads among the Arabs might prevail the next day. Was it worth waiting to see what the Arabs decided? Shragai thinks the police made a mistake, and so do many others in Israel.

But it is difficult to conduct oneself correctly when the public security minister is Labor’s Omer Barlev, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Ra’am Party, whose members have repeatedly identified with the worst of our enemies, is a coalition partner. Shamefully, it was only hours after the rocks were thrown at the Western Wall that the decision was finally made to act with greater force.

Shragai is contemptuous of Omar Barlev, as are many on the right, for the Minister of Public Security’s expression of concern about “settler violence,” which he has apparently exaggerated – only a few hundred settlers out of 500,000 in Judea and Samaria, after all, have been involved in retaliatory violence against the Palestinians. The power of the Arab Ra’am Party, that has not hesitated to make common cause with Palestinians against their own country, Israel, may also have played a part in delaying a firm reaction to the violence on the Temple Mount by the Israeli police. Hours went by, during which rocks and bottles were continuously thrown on worshipers at the Western Wall, before the police finally went into action to grab, disarm, and arrest the rioters. By that time, the violence had spread all across the Al-Aqsa esplanade, and the greatly outnumbered police were themselves the victims of Arab aggression, dodging rocks and Molotov cocktails, as they attempted to round up the most egregious malefactors.

As always when it comes to the Temple Mount, Jordan has played a double game. This time around, Israel went out of its way to coordinate with the Hashemite Kingdom. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke to King Abdullah II and his people before Ramadan even began. The Jordanians were asked to ensure there was no nocturnal barricading inside the mosque. They succeeded at this for a few nights but failed on Thursday night.

Jordan’s King Abdullah is no profile in courage. He wants to keep his throne, and his head, for that matter. He will not do anything that could inflame the more than 60% of the Jordanian population that is Palestinian. He knows that Israel did not start the violence on the Temple Mount, and that the Israelis were perfectly willing to let the Jordanians, because of their role administering the Waqf, do the policing early on, before those intent on rioting had armed themselves. Had Jordanian police arrested a hundred or so Arabs on the Temple Mount on Thursday, after their stockpiling of rocks made their intentions clear, and before they had had a chance to arm themselves, as they did on Friday morning, the crowds might have sullenly dispersed. But Jordan shirked its responsibility. It didn’t want to be seen as keeping the Palestinians on the Temple Mount under control, for fear of how it would be viewed at home.

The Israeli police stationed on the Temple Mount did not “invade” Al-Aqsa. It was those Arab rioters, who stockpiled rocks and other weapons inside the mosque, who were the true invaders, violating the sanctity of the place. It was those Arabs who from the 35-acre esplanade of the Temple Mount, tried to injure or kill, by throwing rocks down on them, the Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall far below. Given that, it is unconscionable for the Israeli police to have waited apparently for several hours before finally acting to push back, and disarm, the rioters.

It is the Jews of Israel who have bent over backward to accommodate the Arabs on the Temple Mount. When Israel took possession of the Temple Mount in June 1967, it might have insisted that Jews be allowed to pray at the holiest site in Judaism. At that point, still staggering from their recent loss, the Arabs would have been unable to oppose Israel’s wishes. Instead, in a move that many Jews have come to regret, the Israeli government. decided that it would prohibit Jews from praying aloud, or even praying silently, on the top of the Temple Mount. That’s how eager the Israelis were not to offend Arabs and Muslims. And Israel went even further. It severely limited the number of religious Jews allowed onto the Mount at any one time. Until 2003, only five – five! – were allowed to visit the Mount. By now, that number is up to 50. Compare that to the unlimited number of Arabs who are allowed on the Temple Mount, sometimes numbering up to 80,000. They can arrive at any time of day, every day of the week. But the Jews can only come, thanks to a decision of the Israelis themselves, during a designated four-hour period each day, and then only for five out of the seven days of the week. How many people around the world, who have been brainwashed by the media to believe that it is the Israelis who are trying to “take over” the Temple Mount, know these things?

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