As night follows day, Muslim leaders began protesting the new security measures on the Temple Mount that Israel put in place following the deadly terror attack on Friday in which two Israeli policemen were murdered. The Temple Mount was closed to Muslim prayer for 24 hours while Israeli security forces searched the area for weapons, and then installed metal detectors at the entry points to the Mount for anyone entering.
The outcry that followed, whipped up by Muslim extremists and preachers, could lead one to think that Israel had banned Muslim worship there forever. One might even think that the terrorists were not their co-religionists, acting on their incitement. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the truth has never been a strong point for Muslim extremists.
It should also be noted that there have been metal detectors, scanners and sometimes body searches at all entrances to the Kotel more or less since the beginning of Jewish prayer there. The Muslims should consider themselves lucky that they never had to worry about such measures before. And given the incitement that is heard from their preachers I can’t help wondering why such measures were not implemented earlier.
The first thing that happened were scuffles that broke out at the entrance to the Temple Mount due to incitement from the Waqf:
Amid heightened tension at the Temple Mount, sporadic scuffles broke out Sunday between security forces and Muslim protesters who were trying to prevent other Muslim worshipers from going onto the site.
Israel partially reopened the ultra-sensitive holy site, which had been closed since Friday’s terror attack that killed two policemen, having installed new security measures including metal detectors and cameras.
But some members of the Waqf — the Islamic trust that administers the site — objected and called on people not to go up.
Nevertheless, several hundred worshipers went through the metal detectors to pray at the site that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Note that it was Muslim-on-Muslim violence above everything else:
Dozens of Muslim men physically blocked worshipers at Lions’ Gate from approaching the newly installed security measures.
The metal detectors and bag searches were being carried out by a private security firm.
Despite pleas from Yoram Halevi, head of Jerusalem District Police, the leaders of the Islamic Waqf refused to cooperate, and told their followers not to comply with the new security arrangements.
But many worshipers did enter, including Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf. Al-Khatib entered from a different gate accompanied by several hundred worshipers, and made no complaint about the newly installed security measures. When asked why he accepted the new measures, al-Khatib told reporters that he did not want to leave the holy site empty.
And as usual, the Palestinians want a do-over after their own violence:
Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Affairs minister, said arrangements must to return to how they were before the deadly attack.
He said the Palestinians will not accept Israeli security additions at the entrance to the site. Though he acknowledged there was violence, he said it “shouldn’t be an excuse for making changes.”
Avi Issacharoff at the Times of Israel warns of the dangerous theatrics of Muslim officials at the most incendiary site in the world:
The Waqf officials knew in advance that metal detectors now stood at the gate; they knew international media would be waiting to see how things would unfold; and they had evidently decided to use the opportunity to display their opposition, knowing it would be broadcast across the world by the dozens of journalists gathered at the entrance.
The waiting police officers made clear to Ahmed Omar al-Kiswani, the director of al-Aqsa Mosque, and to chief Sharia judge Wasef al-Bakri, that they need not pass through the metal detectors and could enter the Temple Mount compound directly. But instead of entering, the Waqf officials halted theatrically, and suddenly begin shouting in protest against Israel’s ostensible “attack on Al-Asqa Mosque.”
Halevi had hoped for the reopening of the holy site to be a celebratory affair. Instead it had quickly turned into an act of protest against the placement of the metal detectors — designed to ensure security in and around the site.
The made-for-TV protest was broadcast on countless media outlets, especially in the Arab world. Al-Kiswani, who was clearly enjoying the limelight, gave interviews, while instructing worshipers not to enter to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque so long as the metal detectors remained in place.
Al-Kiswani knew full well that the three Friday killers smuggled the weapons they used to kill the police officers onto the Mount. He knew, too, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Saturday evening with Jordan’s King Abdullah, who pays his salary, about the planned reopening of the compound. Nonetheless, he had decided this was the appropriate response.
And that was only part of the farce. What al-Kiswani didn’t know was that, at around the same time, a short distance away, the head of the Waqf, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, had entered the Temple Mount Compound, accompanied by a large delegation of Waqf officials, through the Majlis Gate, adjacent to the Waqf’s offices. While al-Kiswani was protesting against the alleged Israeli violation of the site, his boss was at that very moment not merely encouraging worshipers to come pray at the mosque, but was actually leading them up to the Mount.
It is not clear why some officials of the Waqf — whose members are Jordanian officials for all intents and purposes — have chosen this confrontational course. It may be that they have been inspired by Jordan’s conduct — marked by its unreasonable demand on Friday for the compound to be immediately reopened, even as Israel searched for weaponry.
On Saturday, there was an anti-Israel/defend Al-Aqsa march in Amman. On Sunday, the speaker of the Jordanian parliament read out a eulogy for the “martyrs of Palestine and the Jabarin family,” from which the killers hailed. He termed their attack a heroic act. All this, even as King Abdullah and Netanyahu had spoken by phone and agreed to reopen the Mount.
The question now is who will blink first. Will someone from the Hashemite kingdom intervene to impose some order? Will someone in the Israeli government back down? The latter seems particularly unlikely: Netanyahu told reporters on Sunday that the metal detectors are here to stay, and that they constitute an an all too evidently necessary security measure, not a change to the status quo.
Indeed, Jordan’s role in this incitement is extremely worrying. While King Abdullah phoned Binyamin Netanyahu to condemn the attack and called for calm, his own parliament was busy inciting against Israel and glorifying the terrorists:
The Jordanian parliament lauded the actions of the three terrorists Sunday evening who carried out a deadly shooting attack on Friday at the Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, describing them as “martyrs.”
Condemning Israel’s decision to temporarily close the Al-Aqsa mosque to worshippers in the aftermath of the attack, the MPs glorified the three terrorists who murdered the two Druze policemen, Staff Sgt. Maj. Ha’il Satawi, 30, and Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shnaan, 22, of Maghar and Hurfeish respectively
“May God have mercy on our martyrs who watered our pure soil,” said the chairman of parliament, Atef Tarawneh.
“May Allah have mercy on our youths, the members of the Jabarin family who deserve honor and fame,” Tarawneh declared.
“The damage by the Israeli occupation in the holiest sites of Jerusalem and in Al-Aqsa are grounds for continuing the resistance, not to surrender in the face of oppression or tyranny. The Israeli persistence and the severity of its crimes it is committing are the reasons for the setting of fire of revenge in their hearts among the generations who inherit the hatred of the occupation.”
I have few expectations from the Jordanians despite the ostensible peace agreement between our two countries. But we all expect more from Israel’s own Arab parliamentarians. Outrageously all we heard was silence, which President Reuven Rivlin condemned:
President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday condemned Arab-Israeli leaders for not speaking out against Friday’s terror attack at the Temple Mount, saying their silence was akin to an endorsement of the shooting.
“The silence and the feeble responses from some Arab political leaders are outrageous,” the president said at a ceremony at the National Security College.
“Terrorism must be denounced unconditionally,” he added. “Anyone who doesn’t denounce terrorism is collaborating with it.”
While lambasting Arab-Israeli leaders for not denouncing the attack in which two police officers were killed, Rivlin praised the “responsible” conduct of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, both of whom condemned the shooting in phone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“[They] fully understood the danger and worked together with us to calm tensions,” he said, according to Channel 2.
I wouldn’t be so quick to praise them. It was mere lip service to placate Israel rather than an honest condemnation which would have entailed curbing the incitement from their own populations.
The incitement involved some vicious cartoons in the Arab media warning that Al Aqsa is in danger:
In Saudi Arabia, where the government has yet to issue an official statement on the topic, the newspaper Al Watan printed a caricature of a Star of David with Satan’s horns, which is eating the Dome of the Rock.
… Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, also affiliated with Qatar, showed the mosques on the Temple Mount closed off with yellow crime scene tape marked with the Star of David and a sign that says “No entry.”
Ben Dror Yemini in Ynet traces this incitement back to the infamous Raed al-Salah, and warns that incitement inevitably leads to violence as we have just seen.
Incitement in the first act leads, almost always, to a terror attack in the third act. The first act fully belongs to Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, which has been outlawed. This branch is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement in general, and with Hamas in particular.
Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini turned Al-Aqsa into the main focus of his incitement against Jews. Salah is following in the mufti’s footsteps when it comes to Al-Aqsa. These two specialized in incitement. The younger people are getting down to business. We received another example on Friday.
The focus is on the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” libel. According to the libel, which was spread by the mufti in the 1920s, the Jews are planning to take over the Temple Mount mosques and build the Third Temple on their ruins. Since then, the Al-Aqsa libel has been one of the main causes of the waves of terror. Salah himself has called on his followers to sacrifice their lives “to defend Al-Aqsa.” Whoever thinks brainwashing doesn’t work is wrong.
So there’s a need for two things. First of all, it’s time for the Israeli authorities to realize that talk leads to action. Salah and his likes should be silenced, and any legal way will do. Second, Israel’s Arabs, the majority, must speak up much more blatantly. Salah and his followers are the enemy. They are the strife mongers. They are harming the justified struggle for equality. They are spreading lies and nurturing incitement. For our sake, for their sake, Israel’s Arabs should also get rid of this nuisance.
But there has been one good outcome so far from the terror attack and the Muslim response to Israel’s security measures: For the first time, Jews were allowed up to pray on the Temple Mount without a Waqf escort!
Israeli police permitted Jews to visit the Temple Mount Monday, despite the absence of Waqf officials, marking the first time in years that Jews have been able to visit the holy site without being escorted by representatives of the Jordanian organization.
This welcome development came about as a result of the Waqf boycotting any cooperation. They have obviously shot themselves in the foot. Long may they continue doing so as long as it does not lead to more incitement and violence – which sadly, I am sure will continue.