Muslim worshipers are continuing to stream in to Jerusalem from around the country to “defend” the Al Aqsa Mosque even as they continue to refuse to enter the Temple Mount.
The worshipers are being egged on by incitement from the Palestinian Authority’s leading Fatah faction, Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, Jordan’s parliament and its Speaker, Atef Tarawneh, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and other external Muslim forces: all of them linked in one way or another to the Muslim Brotherhood and organized towards the goal of destabilizing the social fabric and peace of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
Oddly, the situation has led to quiet in the compound for Jewish and gentile visitors and tourists for the first time in decades.
But a simmering rage is surrounding the site — one that is clearly being organized and fed by external Arab forces.
Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative, was among the protesters at Lions Gate entrance to the Old City, who spoke with reporters Monday after midday prayers. He told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency that Israelis “don’t want people to be near Al-Aqsa mosque, they don’t want their measures to be exposed. They will not succeed, we will be back for the next prayer and the prayer after that,” he said.
“This will be the beginning of a popular Palestinian uprising.”
On Monday night, hundreds of Arab protesters hurled rocks, bottles and in some cases lit fireworks and firebombs (Molotov cocktails) at Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem. “Dozens” of rioters were injured in the attacks, according to Arab media. Six were arrested.
An Israeli police officer was hurt when he was struck by a rock thrown by an Arab attacker in the Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood, just outside the walls of the Old City. The officer was taken to a hospital in Jerusalem. A police car was also damaged in the melee.
Arab protesters blocked the roads in the Old City and in the Silwan neighborhood just outside, in particular around the area of the Temple Mount. They continued to refuse to enter the gates to the holy site via the metal detectors that were installed in the wake of last Friday’s deadly terror attack.
The Palestinian Authority’s leading Fatah faction – headed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, who so publicly called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn last week’s terror attack at the Temple Mount, and claimed to eschew violence – called for a “Day of Rage” to take place on Wednesday, in protest of the new security measures.
Fatah called for marches from various points in the Palestinian Authority towards checkpoints at the crossings into pre-1967 Israel. Friday prayers are to be conducted in public squares rather than in Al Aqsa Mosque, where many are accustomed to go, in order to denounced what the faction called Israeli “terrorist procedures” in the Old City of Jerusalem, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news outlet.
According to the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) media watchdog organization, Fatah has also rebroadcast — multiple times — a video of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas calling for Arabs to “carry out ‘Ribat’ — religious conflict over lands claimed to be Islamic — over Al Aqsa” (the Palestinian Authority claims the entire Temple Mount compound to be “Al Aqsa”)… and to “prevent Jews in any way from defiling our holy places.”
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Ahmed Hussein, also added his own bit of incitement, warning followers their prayers will not be accepted in Heaven if they pass through the metal detectors to enter the Temple Mount.
Along with the various declarations of other Arab leaders in recent days, perhaps this statement above all others has deliberately whipped Muslim worshipers into an absolute frenzy of panic, hate and fear as they arrive in Jerusalem from every part of Israel to take their places in the street, waiting for the signal to “defend” Al Aqsa.
But the escalation tensions are being fed from abroad as well.
The Jordanian parliament on Sunday praised the terrorists who murdered two Israeli police officers and wounded others, praying for their souls. “May the mercy of Allah be upon our martyrs who sowed and watered the pure land,” said Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh. “We will raise our heads through the sacrifice of the young Palestinians who are still fighting in the name of the nation.”
Tarawneh and the Jordanian parliament worked to further destabilize the situation by condemning Israel for temporarily closing the site for its investigation, and urged more “resistance,” contending, “The damage caused by the Israeli occupation to the holiest sites in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are the reason for the continued resistance, we will not not bow to oppression or tyranny,” he said. “Israel’s continued and serious crimes that it commits are the reason for lighting the fire of revenge in the hearts of the generation who still receive hatred of the occupation as their inheritance.”
In May, Turkey’s president had already warned Israel while speaking at the International Forum on the Al Quds Waqf not to “Judaize” Jerusalem, and was urging Arabs to flood the Temple Mount. “We, as Muslims, should be visiting al-Quds more often,” he said. “Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation [sic] is an insult to us.” Muslim visits to the Temple Mount, he said, “would be the greatest support to our brothers there… Both in terms of our religion and historical responsibility, Al-Quds and the fight of our Palestinian brothers for rights and justice is of great importance to us. We will keep making efforts for Quds to turn into a city of peace,” Erdogan said.
Despite all this, Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram HaLevy told Israel public radio in an interview Tuesday morning the security measures will remain regardless of the violence.
Many of those involved in the protests, he said, were being encouraged in their actions by the incitement from the Palestinian Authority leadership.
“We are determined to create a secure environment after the murder of two police officers,” HaLevy said. “While the families are still sitting and grieving, we cannot let this just pass.”