Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.
Tensions have been mounting in recent months in Jerusalem over visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, or al-Haram al-Sharif [the Noble Sanctuary].
There is nothing new about Jews visiting the holy site: this has been taking place since 1967.
The visits, which are being held in coordination with the Israeli authorities, have triggered many confrontations between the Israeli police and Palestinian protesters.
Palestinians claim that the mere presence of Jewish visitors is a “desecration” of the holy site.
That is why some Palestinians have been resorting to violence to stop Jews from visiting the holy site.
The Palestinians say they are only trying to prevent Jews from destroying the mosques and rebuilding the Third Holy Temple.
But the truth is that the vast majority of Jews visiting the holy site are no different from other non-Muslim tourists who come to the area every day.
The Israeli authorities, in fact, require all visitors to the holy site to respect the feelings of Muslims by appearing in modest dress and without weapons.
Moreover, Jews visiting the compound are not allowed to bring sacred Jewish objects [prayer shawls, prayer books, etc].
Some Palestinians, however, are now exploiting these visits to incite the Arabs and Muslims against Israel.
Throwing stones, empty bottles, shoes and petrol bombs at the Jewish visitors and the policemen accompanying them has become almost a daily practice.
This, in addition to regular demonstrations that are staged at the holy site, where protesters chant slogans against Israel, Jews, the US and even some “moderate” Muslims.
The protests are primarily aimed at dragging Arabs and Muslims into war with Israel under the pretext that the Jews are plotting to destroy the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The ultimate goal is to turn the conflict into a religious war between Jews and Muslims.
Some Palestinians are hoping that the current protests against visits by Jews will spark another intifada [supposedly spontaneous uprising], like the one that erupted after former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s tour of the holy site in September 2000.
Then, the Palestinian Authority depicted Sharon’s visit as part of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the mosques.
Those who are now using the visits by Jews to initiate violence and incite violence against Israel and others are hoping that Arab and Islamic armies will launch a war against Israel over its “desecration” of the holy site.
If anyone is desecrating the holy site, it is those who smuggle petrol bombs and stones into the compound to use them against visitors.
Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.Khaled Abu Toameh