October 6, 2009

The Battle Over the Temple Mount

Muslim Arab Disruptions Spread to Western Jerusalem and Beyond

DEBKAfile Special Report
October 6, 2009

The Jerusalem police were on high alert Tuesday, Oct. 6, for another day of Muslim violence which Monday spread out substantially from Temple Mount to other parts of Jerusalem including Jewish districts.

Muslim preachers (Palestinian and Israeli Arab) continued all night to call the faithful out "to defend al Aqsa" against Israeli domination, although Jewish access to Temple Mount has been denied by the police for the entire eight-day Succoth Festival. As the 51st "Jerusalem March" began Monday (in West Jerusalem only), military units were called in to reinforce security at sensitive points, especially the Old City alleys and its throngs of visitors.

Raed Salah, head of the Islamic movement of Israeli Arabs (who last week, together with the Palestinian Hamas, stirred up the campaign of violence on Temple Mount), found support Monday. Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad demanded international intervention to support exclusive Muslim Palestinian claims to Temple Mount and its shrines.

A far more powerful boost came from the television preacher Yusuf Qardawi, spiritual leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood movement. He urged all Muslims everywhere to mark Oct. 9 as Al Aqsa Day and fight against the shrine's takeover by "the Jews." His influence is enough to bring inflamed Muslims streaming to Jerusalem in the coming days.

Deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom said it was time to arrest Raed Salah, who is an Israeli citizen, and outlaw his extremist Islamist movement which is based in northern Israel.

The Jerusalem police and its commander Aharon Franco are widely criticized for failing to prevent the outbreaks and letting them get out of hand, DEBKAfile reports. The number of terrorist attacks besetting Jerusalem rose steeply in September compared with August. After coming under a hail of rocks and bottles for three days, police patrols discovered caches of rocks hidden inside al Aqsa mosque and other corners of Temple Mount only Monday. Franco is also faulted for failing to disconnect the mosque loudspeakers used by the imams to inflame their followers and give them instructions.

Monday night, the internal security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich and police commissioner Dudi Cohen came out in Franco's support with a statement that Jerusalem is safe and the Succoth celebrations can go on without fear. They dismissed complaints that the holiest Jewish shrine, the site of the temples, is closed to Jews and all visitors but Muslims over 50.

They spoke after a day of riots, firebombs, rocks and burning tires in Jerusalem Arab villages, includiing Abu Dis, Tzur Bahar and Jebel Mukaber. Many of the rioters were masked, presumably because they have jobs and business ties in West Jerusalem. Yet police patrols were told to stay out of the villages.

Shuafat opposite French Hill exploded into violence after an Israeli soldier routinely inspecting a bus was stabbed in the throat by a Palestinian passenger. In attempting to pour oil on troubled waters, police suppressed information about the extent and gravity of the unrest - in particular, the fires Palestinians from Tsur Bahar and Jebal Mukaber in south Jerusalem set to neighboring Jewish farm crops and parks. They attacked the firemen putting out the flames and reignited them.

Here, too, the police refrained from going into the villages and arresting the arsonists, although they were identified by neighbors watching the rampage from their windows.

DEBKAfile's military sources confirm the impression that Aharonovitch and his police chiefs have not grasped the full extent of the security threat to the city and are treating it as a local outbreak that will soon die down if not tackled head on. However, as we disclosed earlier, Syria and Iran are behind the trouble (story below). Israeli Arab and Palestinian Muslim leaders are their willing tools for spearheading a fresh uprising (intifada) against Israel, using the purported Jewish assault on al Aqsa to inflame Muslim masses worldwide.

Mosques in Turkey have responded by calling their congregants out for wild demonstrations. Egypt, Syria and Amman may be expected to follow, not to mention the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israeli Arab communities.

Tehran, Damascus Stir Up Hamas-Israeli Muslim Riots on Temple Mount

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
October 4, 2009

Hundreds of radical Muslims, Palestinian and Israeli, rioted on Jerusalem's Temple Mount Sunday, Oct. 4, for the third day in a row, forcing Israeli police, battling flying bottles and rocks, to shut the shrine down to Muslim worshippers, Jewish Succoth festival pilgrims and tourists. Temple Mount remains sealed off Monday to prevent Muslims hurling rocks on the Jewish Priests Blessing ceremony taking place below at the Western Wall. Only Muslims over 50 with Israeli IDs and women will be admitted.

Incoming intelligence is reported by DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources as fingering Iran and Syria as the hands behind the troubles and their likely escalation. As directives streamed to their Palestinian pawns and radical Israel Arab Muslim elements, the Assad regime cancelled without notice Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Damascus Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The Syrians accuse Abbas of collaborating with the Israeli military and American CIA and putting his security forces at their disposal. They could hardly welcome him while stirring up what they are calling "The Battle for Defending al Aqsa" (the ancient Muslim mosque).

Israeli security circles are alert to the potential of the Temple Mount mob action to flare up into a fresh Palestinian uprising on the West Bank, like the one Yasser Arafat ignited in 2000 over Jewish visits to the Biblical Temple site led by former prime minister Ariel Sharon on Sept. 19 of that year.

According to our sources, Iran and Syria are resolved to derail the process of reconciliation unfolding between the rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, under Egyptian and Saudi sponsorship. The Syrian president Bashar Assad is opposed to this process more fiercely even than Tehran and is determined to scotch it.

Far from erupting spontaneously, the riots were carefully planned for more than a month in covert contacts between Palestinian Hamas operatives and heads of the Israeli Muslim movement, under the guidance of Syrian and Iranian secret agents. They succeeded in bringing Palestinian Islamists and Israeli Arab radicals together for the first time for a joint violent anti-Israel operation, dubbing it Operation Murbitun (Guardians of the Walls).

Thousands of young Palestinians and Israeli Arabs were quietly spirited into Jerusalem during the weeks before the outbreaks. They were divided into "platoons" of 150-200 men each and entrusted with watching over al Aqsa around the clock "to prevent its occupation by settlers, right-wingers and the Israeli police." The call to "everyone who can to come and defend the Muslim shrine" spread like wildfire. Abbas' Fatah had no choice but to jump into the "jihad."

Sunday night, gangs from the Palestinian village of Issawiyeh in northeastern Jerusalem rolled flaming tires onto the Jerusalem-Maaleh Adummim highway and hurled bottle bombs at passing traffic and border police called in to reopen the road.

The unrest predicted for Jerusalem in the coming days is expected to spread to other Arab communities, including those in Israel's heartland in the north.

Islamic Movement: No One Can Keep Us Out of Temple Mount

By Sharon Roffe-Ofir, Israel News
October 5, 2009

On heels of Sunday's riots in Old City and ahead of Sukkot prayer service at Western Wall, Israeli Muslims say by limiting worshipers' entrance to al-Aqsa Mosque police implementing 'plan formulated years ago.'

"We are not deterred, and will continue to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is very important to," the Islamic Movement in Israel said after Jerusalem Police decided to limit the entrance of Muslim worshippers to the Temple Mount compound during Monday's Jewish prayer services at the site.

Thousands of Jews are expected to flock to the Western Wall Monday for the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) ceremony.

Meanwhile, Hamas has called for a new intifada (uprising) to "defend" Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located within the compound. The Islamist group issued a statement saying that "harming al-Aqsa will blow up in the face of the Zionist aggression," and blamed Israel for the recent violence in east Jerusalem.

Police will allow Muslim Worshipers aged 50 and over and women of all ages, who carry Israeli IDs, to attend services at the Temple Mount.

On Friday the leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch told followers that should Muslims have to choose between renouncing the al-Aqsa Mosque and becoming martyrs, they will choose the latter.
"Should the State of Israel make us choose…we will clearly choose to be martyrs," said Sheikh Raed Salah in the annual al-Aqsa convention in Umm al-Fahm. "We are a nation that does not give up, we will die and win; the al-Aqsa Mosque is not a matter that can be given up on, and we shall win, God willing."
Thousands of Muslims heeded Salah's call and made their way to Jerusalem's Old City early Sunday. Police initially restricted access to the compound – both to tourists and visitors – as a precautionary measure, after learning that residents of east Jerusalem were urged to "come to protect the Mount." Large police forces were deployed in the Old City as well.

'Carrying out policy'

The would-be precautionary measure backfired, as shortly after word that the compound had been closed spread, some 150 Arabs arrived at the Lions Gate and began stoning security forces.
The demonstrators were pushed back towards the Wadi Joz neighborhood, where they continued to riot.

Islamic Movement spokesman Zahi Nujidat said police "are carrying out the Israeli government's policy. This plan was formulated years ago – this is no secret. (Former Israeli prime minister) David Ben-Gurion said the State was worthless without Jerusalem.
"It is important that people realize that this is a religious conflict," said the spokesman, "This is not about politics – this is our religion, our faith, so it is only natural that we pray here. The government and police won’t stop us from doing so."

Temple Mount Closing Spawns Arab Riot

United Press International
October 4, 2009

Arab rioters hurled stones and bottles at Israeli police Sunday after the sacred Temple Mount was closed to visitors and worshipers, officials said.

Two police officers suffered minor injuries, three rioters were arrested and senior Fatah member Hatem Abdel Kader was detained for questioning, Ynetnews.com reported.

The Temple Mount, one of the world's most contested religious sites, was closed after Abdel Kader and Palestinian leader Raed Salah allegedly called for Muslim worshipers to arrive en masse to protect the Temple Mount's al-Aqsa mosque from Jewish visitors, Ynetnews.com reported.
"If we have to choose between giving up the al-Aqsa mosque and being shahids (martyrs), we choose to be shahids," Salah told supporters Saturday.
Many Jewish visitors were expected in Old Jerusalem, the site of the Temple Mount, during the holiday of Sukkot, which began Friday evening and ends Oct. 9.

Last month, the Temple Mount was closed on the eve of Yom Kippur after Jewish tourists, accompanied by police, were stoned by worshipers from the mosque. No serious injuries were reported.

Jordan Reprimands Israel Envoy Over Temple Mount Riots

By Roni Sofer, Israel News
October 4, 2009

Amman says Israel's policy on east Jerusalem causing 'unnecessary turmoil,' claims Waqf director was 'humiliated' by police. Ambassador Rosen blames 'inciting elements.'

Jordan reprimanded Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Rosen following Sunday morning's riots in Jerusalem's Old City, which erupted after local police closed the Temple Mount to visitors and Muslim worshippers for fear of violence.

Rosen was summoned Sunday evening to the Foreign Ministry in Amman, where a senior official also criticized him over Israel's continued construction in east Jerusalem and in areas surrounding the capital.

Jordan was particularly irate over the fact that police barred Azzam Khatib from entering the Temple Mount.

Khatib is the director of the Waqf, which is charged with day-to-day administration of the compound. Jordan said he was "humiliated." The Waqf director is considered by many to be Jordan's representative in the Old City.

Jordan's criticism over the construction in east Jerusalem is usually conveyed behind closed doors, but a series of incidents at the Temple Mount have heightened tensions between the countries, which have been cooperating to advance the peace talks with the Palestinians and to bolster the "moderate front" in the face of threats from extremist elements, headed by Iran.

The head of the Jordanian Foreign Minister's bureau told Rosen that Israel was violating the law and that its actions were causing unnecessary turmoil. The Israeli ambassador blamed "inciting elements" for the violence at the Temple Mount.

Over the past few days a number of protests have been held in Lebanon, Gaza and Jordan against Israel's policy regarding the Muslim holy sites in east Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Police decided to keep the Temple Mount compound closed to visitors Monday.

The decision followed a security assessment held at the district's headquarters in the wake of Sunday's riots.

Nevertheless, police will allow Muslim Worshipers aged 50 and over and women of all ages, who carry Israeli IDs, to attend services.

Thousands of Christians Throng to Israel

UPI and OfficialWire
October 2, 2009

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - Thousands of Christians will participate in the week long Feast of Tabernacles in the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, organizers said.

A statement issued by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem said some 5,000 Christian pilgrims from nearly 100 nations taking part in the week long celebrations, will inject $12 million to $15 million into the Israeli economy during their visit.

Israel's Tourism Ministry said the participants come from countries such as Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, India, Italy, Nigeria, Brazil, Finland, Norway and the United States.

Delegates Friday are set to attend a special celebration at Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea where organizers say the world's largest flag weighing more than 10 tons will be displayed.

They described the flag as a massive Jerusalem flag with the Lion of Judah depicted on it.

The visiting delegates will also participate in an array of activities in Jerusalem and tour the country during their visit.

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