The situation in Jerusalem 5 Nov 2014

Behind the Headlines: The situation in Jerusalem


The Palestinians have carried out three terrorist attacks in Jerusalem in less than two weeks and instigated numerous riots on the Temple Mount since the summer. Incitement and the glorification of terrorists have played an important role in triggering the violence and in encouraging further attacks.
Rioting on the Temple Mount
Copyright: Israel Police
The past weeks have been marked by a series of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem:

One Israeli man was killed and 14 injured, some seriously, in Jerusalem on Wednesday, November 5, when a Palestinian deliberately rammed his commercial van into two separate crowds of Israelis near a light-rail train station and then attacked passers-by with a metal pole.

A nearly identical attack took place exactly two weeks earlier (Wednesday, October 22) when a Palestinian steered his car into a light-rail station killing an Israeli-American baby and a woman originally from Ecuador and injuring eight.

On Wednesday, October 29, a Palestinian terrorist attacked Yehuda Glick, an American-born Israeli, as he was departing from a conference in central Jerusalem. The terrorist shot Rabbi Glick multiple times and he remains in critical condition.

Rioting on the Temple Mount:

In the past few months, Palestinian radicals have been trying to breach the status quo by preventing Christians and Jews from visiting the Temple Mount. Palestinian rioters - incited by Hamas and the radical branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel - have attacked visitors as well as the police with stones and fireworks, using the al-Aqsa Mosque as their base of operations.

On November 5, several dozen masked Arabs again rioted on the Temple Mount. As the Mughrabi Gate for non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount opened as usual, the rioters came out of their prepared positions inside the al-Aqsa mosque and launched stones and fireworks at police stationed at the gate. The police responded with non-lethal measures to prevent injuries.

The rioters then returned to the al-Aqsa mosque, positioning themselves behind barricades they built the night before. They targeted the police with the hundreds of fireworks, rocks and iron bars prepared beforehand, all from within the mosque itself. Several police officers were injured.  

Although as a matter of policy, the police never enter the mosque, following the escalation of attacks from inside the mosque, the police had to take a rare step. A small number of officers walked a few steps into the mosque's entrance, for a short time, to remove the barricades that were preventing the mosque's doors from being shut. By closing these doors, the police separated the rioters from their targets, thereby restoring calm to the Temple Mount and enabling peaceful visits to the plaza.

A video filmed by the Israel Police clearly shows the Palestinian rioters at the entrance to the mosque, which they have taken over and desecrated as a launching base for their attacks.

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Israel places the highest value on freedom of religion and worship. In contrast to Palestinian claims, Israel has made no move to change the decades-old status-quo on the Temple Mount, to which the Government of Israel is committed. Israel is reacting with maximum restraint to Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount. Its goals are to allow Muslims to pray peacefully and for Jews and others to visit safely. The police, despite being targeted, use only non-lethal measures against rioters, such as sponge-bullets and concussion grenades.

In contrast, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his "unity government" partner Hamas are operating to undermine the status-quo on the Temple Mount, inciting riots to enflame tensions. Islamic extremists are endangering the safety of the al-Aqsa mosque by transforming it into a base for attacks and using flammable weapons. They store fireworks, Molotov cocktails and other dangerous objects inside the mosque and launch violent attacks from within the structure they claim as their third holiest site.

While instigating riots on the Temple Mount, PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself, as well as Hamas, have engaged in incitement to terrorism and violence in Jerusalem. In recent statements, Abbas said that all means must be used to prevent Jews from going up to the Temple Mount. He called Jewish visitors to their holiest site a "herd." In the past, Abbas has disseminated lies, claiming that Israel is attacking the al-Aqsa mosque and that Jews are "desecrating" it.

The most recent terrorist attack (November 5) is a direct result of the incitement by Abbas and his Hamas partners. The acts of incitement include a condolence letter sent by Abbas (1 November) to the family of the terrorist who shot Yehuda Glick. In the letter that glorifies the shooter, the PA president wrote that he "ascended to heaven as a martyr in the course of defending the rights of our nation, its honor and holy sites." Abbas' Fatah movement also published materials exalting the terrorist who carried out the attack on 22 October. For example, both Sultan Abu-Aynayn (an Abbas advisor and Fatah Central Committee member) and Fatah's official Facebook page praised him as "a heroic martyr."

The international community should strongly condemn Abbas' incitement and call on the PA president to cease this encouragement of violence and terrorism. The inflammatory language and actions must cease so that calm can return to Jerusalem and its Temple Mount in particular.

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