It would be entirely incorrect to say that clashes “erupted” on the Temple Mount on Sunday, the second time this month that Israeli police have fought with Palestinians.
The police did indeed fight with Palestinians. But the clashes hardly “erupted.” They were not the explosion of a spontaneous combustion or a strike of lightning to dry brush. Rather, they were the deliberate result of incendiary incitement, of lies and provocations yet again by extremist Muslim religious leaders to their people to defend the Temple Mount against the “Jewish conquest,” against the Jews, whom they charged, were planning to harm the mosques on the Noble Sanctuary, as the Temple Mount is known in Arabic.
Of course, the charges were fabrications.
But they achieved the result the clerics intended: rallying the masses, mostly Palestinian youths, to violence. They threw stones and oil at the police. The police fought back.
Right on cue, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, from his safe perch in Damascus, fanned the fiery flames among the agitated Palestinians.
“Jerusalem’s fate will be decided by holy war and resistance, and not by negotiations,” Meshal said. “The Israelis want to divide Al Aqsa Mosque, and this is not all. They want to hold their religious ceremonies in the mosque … in preparation for demolishing it and building their temple there,” he shouted. “Jerusalem is all of Jerusalem, not only [the east Jerusalem neighborhood of] Abu Dis. The Arabs and Muslims are [the city’s] residents, and the Zionists have no claim over it,” Meshal emphasized. And then he said: “I call for angry protests in Palestine and in the Arab world. Today, protests began in [the] Gaza [Strip], and we hope they will spread to the West Bank…We must send a message to the world: In light of the settlements and actions in Jerusalem, there are no negotiations and we must rethink our steps.” The last few words were the key part of his message to the Arab world.
With these words, Meshal was echoing the hateful intransigence of Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, who two weeks earlier told Ha’aretz that the clashes on the Temple Mount would last as long as Israel’s “occupation” of the city and Al-Aqsa Mosque continued.
Israel’s police commissioner, Insp.-Gen. David Cohen, who was himself on the Temple Mount to observe the fighting first hand, noted that “large groups of east Jerusalem Arabs are being encouraged [to violence] by the Islamic Movement leaders.”
With Goldstone euphoria at the back of their sails, Palestinian leaders are opening a new propaganda front: Jerusalem, where they have orchestrated two sets of clashes in one month. Palestinian leaders have astutely noticed that when the Jewish state fights back, it is condemned by most of the world’s international agencies. But if the Jewish state does not fight back, it will have surrendered its sovereignty, which is its enemies’ ultimate aim.