I doubt after Netanyahu's fairy tale at the World Zionist Congress, when he exonerated Hitler and laid the blame for the Holocaust on the Mufti of Jerusalem that anyone, bar the United States Congress, will believe him. This should especially be the case with the Temple Mount and the Mosque of Al Aqsa. The status quo has, as Ben White says, already been changed.
|The Golden Domed Al Aqsa Mosque|
Before entering the Temple Mount, there is what is known as the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall apparently of the second temple. In 1967 the Israel invaders demolished the Moroccan quarter in front of the wall in order to allow greater numbers of Jews to pray there.
|Police damage in Mosque|
Imagine for one minute that Muslims started demanding the right to pray at the Western 'Wailing' Wall. There would be riots. But that is exactly what is happening at the golden domed Mosque of Omar, the most beautiful signpost to Jerusalem. The heathens, because that is what they are, of the Temple Mount Institute and Ateret Cohanim, who openly wish to demolish the mosque and make way for the Third Temple, complete with animal sacrifices, otherwise known as the religious Zionist settlers, have forced their way into the Mosque accompanied by dozens of Israeli soldiers firing stun grenades, assaulting Muslims who are praying and causing extensive damage.
The Mosque is the property of those responsible for maintaining it, the clerics of Islam in Jerusalem. If they don't want anyone from another religion to even enter the Mosque that is their business. It's not a synagogue or even a church it is a mosque. Imagine if a group of Muslims in Britain decided to force their way into a synagogue under some bogus pretext or other. The fact that Jewish people and others can visit the Mosque is or should be a decision solely for those who run and maintain the mosque. The 'status quo' was itself forced upon the Mosque in 1967 and has been the subject of consistent attempts to overturn it.
In fact Orthodox Jews won't go onto the Temple Mount for fear of trespassing on the Holy of Holies, a capital crime in the Jewish religion, since god is supposed to reveal himself there to the High Priest. To the messianic madmen of the Jewish religion this injunction means nothing since their real idol is the land of Israel.
Friday, 23 October 2015 13:23
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that his government has no intention of changing the ‘status quo’ at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and that claims to the contrary by Palestinians are either mistaken, or acts of deliberate deception.
Let us put aside for now the fact that the Israeli government and Jerusalem municipality fund radical Jewish groups actively dedicated to the ultimate goal of building a ‘Third Temple’ after the physical destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Let us also put aside the fact that there is well-documented support for the demands of right-wing Jewish activists’ amongst Israeli politicians – including cabinet ministers.
Instead, let us look at two particular statistical trends: restrictions on access for Muslim worshippers and the number of visits by Jewish activists to the compound.
According to official data from the Israeli police, the instances of access restrictions to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for Muslim worshippers shot up in 2014.
In 2012, age restrictions were imposed on Muslim worshippers on just three occasions, a figure that rose to eight in 2013. In 2014, however, Israeli authorities imposed age restrictions for Muslim worshippers on 41 occasions – a five-fold increase from the preceding year.
In addition, Israel closed the compound to all Muslim worshippers and visitors for one day on October 30, 2014, the first such full closure in 14 years.
The data, published four months ago by Emek Shaveh, an organization of archaeologists and community activists, also shows that the most common age restriction was for men under the age of 50, which has occurred 34 times from 2012-2014.
Emek Shaveh note how in 2014, “the Israeli police imposed age restrictions on worshipers 41 times”, which “amounts to nearly 15% of the year.” Thus, the group concludes, “the feeling among Palestinians that Israel is changing the status quo in the area” is actually “backed up by police data.”
Meanwhile, the number of Jews visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has markedly risen over recent years. According to official police statistics, the number of Jewish visitors to the site in 2009 was 5,658 – in 2014, this had almost exactly doubled to 10,906.
Responding to these figures in January, an official from the Temple Institute, a prominent extremist group, said that the trend “demonstrate that the Jewish people are undergoing a spiritual awakening, and reconnecting – not only to their most holy site, but to their own destiny.”
In the words of Emek Shaveh, there is thus “a direct link between rising restrictions on visitors in 2013 and 2014 and increasing attempts by right-wing groups to upset the status quo in the area.”
According to UN OCHA, for “three consecutive weeks” in late August-September, Israeli authorities prevented “all Palestinian women, as well as all men under 50, from entering Al Aqsa Mosque Compound during the morning hours, to secure the entry of settlers and other Israeli groups.”
Writing in Ha’aretz on October 19, former Israeli negotiator Shaul Arieli cited a 2014 report on changes at the compound, which noted “significant changes” to Muslim worshippers’ access to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in parallel to the increase in Jewish visitors.
This increase in numbers is accompanied by the presence of Israeli MKs and ministers, some of whom [then-Likud MK Moshe Feiglin and then-Housing Minister Uri Ariel] give media interviews on the Mount and/or authorize Jewish prayer near the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque – actions that were forbidden in the past, but are now taking place under the auspices of the Israel Police.
Netanyahu can claim ‘incitement’ all he wants – the numbers are clear. When it comes to Al-Aqsa, as across the rest of Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel has already changed the facts on the ground, and shows no signs of stopping.
Over the last three days, Palestinians have come under fierce attack as they attempted with their bare hands, sticks and stones to deter and prevent repeated violent assaults by Israeli occupation forces into Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound.
The violence comes as Israeli-backed groups bent on replacing the mosque with a Jewish temple are asserting their presence ever more aggressively.
Dozens of Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces who fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at worshipers, Ma’an News Agency reported.
Early on Monday, Israeli forces forcibly expelled Palestinians from the Bab al-Silsila entrance to the compound in occupied East Jerusalem, activist Khadija Khuwais told the local news agency Q Press.
The video at the top of this post, produced by Q Press, shows more of the violent attacks by Israeli forces against journalists and other civilians as well as the firing of stun grenades inside mosque buildings.
By Wednesday, confrontations between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces were spreading to other areas of occupied Jerusalem.
Palestinians have published many images and videos of the violence on social media.
Jewish temple plans
The increasingly violent Israeli incursions at one the most revered holy sites for Muslims have accompanied the rise in recent years of so-called “Temple activism” groups.
These are organizations whose ultimate and clearly stated goal is the construction of a Jewish “Third Temple” to replace the currently existing structures that make up al-Aqsa mosque.
A 2013 report by the Israeli research organization Ir Amim noted that “the Jerusalem Municipality and other government ministries directly fund and support various activist organizations driven by the mission to rebuild the temple.”
The Temple Institute, the leading extremist organization of its kind, has already formulated detailed blueprints for the new Jewish temple.
A leading figure in the Temple movement is Yehuda Glick, an American settler who was shot and injured by an unidentified gunman after he spoke last October at a conference titled “The Jewish people return to the Temple Mount.”
Hours after the shooting, Israeli forces extrajudicially executed Mutaz Hijazi, a 32-year-old Palestinian they claimed without presenting evidence had been Glick’s assailant.
The latest violence was provoked Sunday by the entry of Jewish extremists into the compound, among them Israeli agriculture minister Uri Ariel.
A prominent figure among Israeli settlers, Ariel called in 2013 for the building of a Jewish temple at the al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as “Temple Mount.”
“We’ve built many little, little temples,” Ariel said, “but we need to build a real temple on the Temple Mount.”
Many Palestinians fear that the incursions are aimed, as a preliminary step, at changing the longstanding status quo at the mosque. Already, Israeli occupation forces shut the mosque to Muslim worshippers on certain Jewish holy days – Israel is currently marking the start of the Jewish new year.
The latest assaults also come as Muslims around the world prepare for the holiday marking Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
One tactic Israel has used more frequently to facilitate the incursions is to issue banning orders against Palestinian volunteers, known as murabitoun, whose goal is to maintain a constant presence at the compound.
The next step many fear could be a physical partition of the compound between Jews and Muslims, following the model Israel imposed on the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron after the 1994 massacre by an American-born Jewish settler of 29 Palestinian men and boys who were performing Ramadan prayers.
There is a recent precedent for the destruction of a holy site of one religious group by supporters of another, with calamitous geopolitical consquences.
In 1992, Hindu nationalists in India destroyed the 400-year-old Babri mosque in the northern city of Ayodhya, which they believe was built over the ruins of a temple marking the birthplace of their god Lord Ram.
The violence this provoked killed thousands of people, exacerbating sectarianism and communalism in India to this day.
The destruction of the Babri mosque offers an ominous warning of what could happen if Israeli government-backed Jewish nationalists attempt to fulfill their desire to replace al-Aqsa with a Jewish temple.
But the violence it would trigger would have global consequences and likely make the bloodbath in India pale in comparison.
Given what is at stake, the international neglect of what Israel is doing in Jerusalem is alarming.
Israel is testing the limits of what it can get away with.
Last year, for instance, during its 51-day assault, Israel destroyed the Omari mosque in Gaza, one of the most ancient in Palestine, with no international response.
Jordan, which maintains a nominal role in managing al-Aqsa since its 1994 peace treaty with Israel, has warned that Israel’s actions, if not stopped, will affect ties between the two countries.
But such warnings in the past have not resulted in any meaningful actions by the kingdom, which maintains close ties with the self-declared Jewish state.
The European Union issued one of its typical weak statements, failing to point to Israel’s primary responsibility for the crisis as the occupying power.
“The reported violence and escalation [at the site] constitute a provocation and incitement” ahead of important Jewish and Muslim holy days, European Commission spokesperson Maja Kocijancic told media in Brussels on Tuesday.
“It is crucial that all parties demonstrate calm and restraint and full respect for the status quo of the holy sites,” she said.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov warned the UN Security Council on Tuesday that recent events had “the potential to ignite violence well beyond the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.”
But he too stressed that “all sides have a responsibility to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric” – failing to call for the occupying power to be held accountable.
The US State Department said that it was “deeply concerned by the recent violence and escalating tensions.”
“We strongly condemn all acts of violence,” the US government said. “It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve unchanged the historic status quo on the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount in word and in practice.”
The phrase “deeply concerned” is a formula the US has used routinely to criticize Israeli actions, such as the expansion of colonies on occupied Palestinian land.
In every past case it has meant, in practice, that the US will do absolutely nothing to restrain the Israeli aggressions it is condemning.