Tag Archives: al Aqsa Mosque

Hamas, Islamic Jihad praise West Bank terror attack

Militants say attack that killed one Israeli and injured two others was a response to ‘Israeli crimes’

Palestinian militant organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised a shooting attack on Israeli cars near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Monday, which left one dead and two others wounded.

Stopping short of claiming responsibility for the shooting, the groups linked the attack to recent unrest in the flashpoint Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“We in Hamas welcome the shooting action in the Hebron area, during which shots were fired at several settlers, causing the death of one and wounding of others,” said Hamas spokesman Husam Badran. “We see this action as a natural response to the crimes of the occupation [Israel] against the rights of our people and the repeated assaults on the al-Aqsa Mosque and our prisoners jailed in Israel.”

Islamic Jihad released a similar statement, hailing the attack and linking it to “settlers appropriating the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”

The attack took place as the seven-day Jewish Passover holiday began.

“Fire was opened at Israeli civilian vehicles on Route 35, near Hebron, and we’re conducting widespread searches for the perpetrators… An Israeli civilian was killed in the attack,” an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said.

Israel’s Army Radio radio said the victim was a man, and that his wife and one of their children were those hurt.

A separate army statement said two other Israelis were wounded.

The flashpoint city of Hebron is home to nearly 200,000 Palestinians. Additionally, there are some 80 settler homes in the center of town housing about 700 Jews who live under Israeli army protection.

In September, an Israeli soldier was shot dead by a suspected Palestinian gunman in the center of Hebron during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Temple Mount clashes

Tensions were running high earlier in the week in Jerusalem, after Israeli police arrested five people after Palestinians clashed with security forces at the Temple Mount compound on Sunday.

Police said “stones and Molotov cocktails” were thrown at officers, who responded using stun grenades and entered the compound. An AFP journalist said Hamas members were among the protesters.

The compound, in the walled Old City, houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, and is the third most sacred site in Islam.

It is also the holiest place in Judaism, venerated as the site where King Herod’s temple stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Clashes frequently break out there between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Muslims are intensely sensitive to any perceived threat to the status of the compound and many believe Jews are determined to build a new temple on the wide esplanade. Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, but often try to enter the compound.


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Sacred Shrines Become ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

The supreme leader of the Palestinian Muslims and guardian of Islam’s most sacred shrine in the Old City of Jerusalem has warned of an uprising and regional war if Jews attempt to take greater control of the al Aqsa Mosque complex.

The warning came amid advancing efforts in the Israeli parliament to try to take administrative control of the sacred Islamic site which Jews also lay claim to as it sits on the remains of their Second Temple.

For now “sovereignty” of the Haram al Sharif, as the complex is traditionally known, lies with Jordan.

But several Knesset members, led by deputy speaker Moshe Feiglin, a member of the Likud Party, are pressing for greater access to Jews for prayer on the site and administrative control of it.

“It is the hard core of our identity … those places that represent the basis for our existence here altogether. Should we insist on [access to] these places or not?” Mr Feiglin told Sky News.

“Because if we cannot insist on our legitimacy on our basic rights to pray in the most holiest place for the Jews in the land of Israel –  under Israeli sovereignty in the middle of Jerusalem – then we’re losing our legitimacy not just in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, but everywhere else.”

The Knesset member is a forceful rejectionist of talks with the Palestinians aimed at establishing an independent state on the West Bank and in Gaza.

He believes that Israel is a threat to itself by ceding territory it captured in 1967 and has occupied since then. On the issue of what Jews call the Temple Mount, he is equally unbending.

“I don’t need to prove anything, history says it all. Any honest person who learned a bit of history knows the truth – Jerusalem belongs to the Jews and to the Jews only, that’s a fact. And by the way the Temple Mount never really interested Muslims before the Israelis came back.”

The Mohammed Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, issued a stark warning against any attempts to replace the Muslim administration of the Haram al Shari/Temple Mount in an exclusive interview with Sky News.

“If the Israelis come here it will be more than an intifada,” he said.

What do you mean more than an intifada?

“The whole region will be engulfed by war,” the Grand Mufti insisted.

Such threats are not idle.

In 2000, Ariel Sharon triggered the Second or “al Aqsa” Intifada which led to the deaths of 4,000 people and many more wounded over the next half decade by insisting on his right to visit the shrine.

He did so at a time of heightened tension when 10 years of talks aimed at ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza appeared to Palestinians to be going nowhere – and when they were also frustrated at the ineptitude and corruption of their own leadership.

Today, peace talks are going nowhere. The Palestinians have been letting Jewish settlements chew into their lands on the West Bank. Their leadership remains corrupt and incompetent – and are increasingly being seen as collaborators.

The tinder box that Mr Sharon, then leader of the Israeli opposition, lit in 2000 is just as dry now.

“It’s a huge and dangerous issue – taking the place from Muslims where they believe they have the right to pray is very dangerous,” Grand Mufti Hussein said.

Jews are banned from praying on the holy site by the Israeli police, although the courts have found that they should be able to exercise this right.

They are also forbidden, when they do visit, from removing so much as a leaf or a grain of soil.

Sky News joined a small group who were escorted by an Israeli policeman, who monitored their progress on a pre-set route around the outer edge of the 35-acre complex.

They prayed by talking to themselves as they walked, or by pretending to be in conversations and instead reciting invocations.

They were led by Rabbi Yitzchak Reuven, assistant director of The Temple Institute which is dedicated to restoring the temple to its third incarnation and is collecting the sacred vessels that one day it hopes will be used there.

A model of the Third Temple has pride of place in the Temple Institute Museum just 100 yards from the Western Wall – all that remains of the Second Temple since its destruction by Rome in 70AD.

Rabbi Reuven said: “It’s not a fantasy at all because we have the instructions of what needs to be done, we have the information, we have the technology to achieve all these things.

“In terms of arriving at the moment that’s a historical process, we don’t expect a metaphysical change in the world, we don’t expect a divine intervention that’s going to set things right.”

His ambition may have a purely theological intent, but it also poses an explosive political reality.

He is sanguine.

“We’re hoping by increasing awareness we will be closer to achieving the dream of the Jewish people and one that we have for the entire world because as Isaiah says this shall be a house of prayer for all nations.”

Sacred Shrines Become ‘Ticking Time Bomb’.