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Fatah and Hamas libel: Al-Aqsa Mosque in danger

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook  |

The Palestinian media have stepped up their "Jerusalem campaign." The intent is to generate fear and create the perception that Jerusalem, Jerusalem's Arab character and the Al-Aqsa mosque are threatened on personal, national and religious fronts.


The Hamas owned "Al Aqsa" TV network aired a video clip last week that showed Israelis digging under the mosque in an attempt to topple it, while the Muslim and Arab world "slumbered."


The PA under Fatah, which has also been promoting such anti-Israeli propaganda for years, has recently increased the frequency and intensity of its messages. In these messages, the PA accuses Israel of "ethnic cleansing" and "Judaizing" Jerusalem. It accuses Israel of infesting Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem with super aggressive rats, and systematically distributing addictive street drugs to Jerusalem's Arab residents.
This campaign aims to incite religious and national fury against Israel by presenting Israel as a threat to Islam's holy site, with plans to topple the Al-Aqsa Mosque. To accomplish this, the PA does not hesitate to use vicious terminology and libels, and recruit religious leaders to deliver inflammatory sermons.
The following statements reflect these recent recurring themes:
"Israel is building a Jewish city underground."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 18, 2008]
Israel is "putting up a bridge that can hold hundreds of soldiers, police officers and vehicles, strategically placed to allow Israeli forces to raid the Al-Aqsa Mosque." 
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 20, 2008] 
Israel is "stationing missile launchers in the Old City in occupied Jerusalem" for the purpose of "bombarding Al-Aqsa mosque with missiles attacks." 
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 1, 2008]
As a result of these accusations, calls to the Arab and Muslim public to act against Israel and against Israelis are seen as a legitimate act of self-defense. The Palestinian leadership has been calling upon men, women and even children to rally together to combat "the situation in Jerusalem, which has reached a critical point and has crossed red lines."
[PA TV, June 22, 2008]
The message is straightforward: As an Arab and a Muslim, you are under attack.  Retaliating against Israelis is your religious and personal duty. You must actively defend your children and your family, and serve the Arab and Muslim nation.
It is important to note that all of the recent terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, including the two bulldozer attacks and the murders at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, were committed by residents of East Jerusalem who were not sent by Hamas or Fatah. The rampant hostility in this area is therefore a major issue that should not be ignored.
The following examples from PA-controlled news outlets illustrate the various facets of the "Jerusalem campaign":
1.      Claims that Israel is a "threat to the city of Jerusalem, its residents, and the Al-Aqsa mosque;
2.      Dissemination of lies and libels about Israel;
3.      Claims that Israel poses a threat to Islam and to world peace;
4.      Invocations to join the struggle against Israel.
1. Israel is "a threat to the city of Jerusalem, its residents and the Al-Aqsa Mosque"
"Ahmed Abu-Halbiyyah said that Israel has a strategic purpose for attacking Al-Aqsa,  that is 'to destroy the mosque and to erect a Jewish temple in its stead. This is supported by the escalated and continuous efforts to Judaize the city and to expel its residents.'"
[Palestinian Congress Member, Acting Head of the Al-Quds Committee,
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 16, 2008]
Chief Mufti: "...The Zionist mentality is founded on the idea of emptying the land of its former owners...Nabil Mashour, a lawyer who heads the Arab Orthodox Council in Jerusalem, said that the purpose of Israeli law is to Judaize Jerusalem and empty it of its [Arab] residents in order to achieve a majority of Israelis in the city, and make Jerusalem's [Arab] residents a minority."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 25, 2008]
"Israel has been acting incessantly... to fabricate the city's culture and history, to remove and erase the city's Arab, Islamic, and Christian historical monuments, and to Judaize the city's religious symbols..."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2008]
"The occupation continues to pursue the excavations until it reaches its grand and dangerous goal of destroying the mosque."
[Secretary General of the Islamic-Christian Front,
Dr. Hassan Khater, PA TV, Aug. 17, 2008]
"The Al-Aqsa Mosque and all the archaeological artifacts, religious structures and holy sites it houses are all under a serious threat of collapse at any moment."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 18, 2008]
Headline: "Institutes and public figures in Jerusalem are warning of an ethnic cleansing campaign in the holy city."
"Institutes and public figures in Jerusalem warned yesterday that the Occupation plans to destroy several residential buildings in Jerusalem as an interlude into a lengthy and violent war against the property of Arab residents in the villages, towns and neighborhoods in the city."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 23, 2008]
2. Libels and lies about Israel, including accusations of rat infestations, building an underground city, plans to topple Al-Aqsa Mosque, distributing addictive street drugs, issuing unlawful police reports, etc.
"... The people in Jerusalem took seriously the threats published in the Israeli media against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the worshipers. They mentioned the rocket launchers that were brought into the Old City of occupied Jerusalem by a group of Jewish extremists, and there is a possibility that Al-Aqsa will be shelled in an attempt to destroy it.
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sep. 1, 2008]
"What a most fascinating thing we read about this past month . . .  the settlers come with large boxes and . . .  and release them in the neighborhoods and streets of the Old City, where they multiply and become a big problem... the president's attempts to deal with this problem have failed, especially in light of the fact that even the cats run away and avoid confronting these rats because they are so large and fierce... all customary means of killing them have failed, and it is widely believed that these rats are immune to poison... this forces Jerusalem's residents to deal with the threat posed by the settlers and packs of rats!"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 18, 2008]
"One could say that Israel is building a Jewish city underground at the expense of the old city, and its historic and holy sites... an additional difficulty is that settlers have been moving into many Arab houses, where they live on the upper or lower floors and at times even in one of the rooms."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 18, 2008]
The "Chief Khadi of Palestine," Al-Tamimi, said: "the latest development in the series has been the approval given by the "Jerusalem municipality" to build a bridge in Shaar Ha-Mugrabim in order to allow more than 5,000 soldiers in armored forces of the Israeli occupation to enter the platform of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in their failed attempts to look for their temple, which they falsely claim existed."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 30, 2008]
"The occupation authorities have unquestionably been disseminating drugs and promoting drug abuse, especially in Jerusalem."
[PA TV, Dec. 2, 2007]
"The Occupation's police patrols, which are spread throughout Jerusalem's main streets, fined dozens of Jerusalem car owners. The drivers claim the fines were given out of malice and vengeance."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 22, 2008]
Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, head of "the Islamic Movement in the parts of Palestine lost in 1948," said: "They call destruction - refurbishing, the act of forgery - strengthening. What is the logic of this? They remove Islamic monuments in order to research what they gathered from legends and superstitions from the Talmud. Yet this is the oppressive Occupation that seeks to control everything."
  [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 13, 2008]
3. "Israel poses a threat to Islam and to world peace"
"Hassan Khater, Secretary General of the Islamic-Christian Front for Defending Jerusalem and its Holy Sites, explained that Jerusalem is currently paralyzed and unable to fulfill its grand role of promoting love and peace and dialogue between people because it has been hijacked by The Occupation, who has closed the city's gates to Muslims and Christians and is making the city into a Jewish stronghold."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 7, 2008]
Hassan Khater, Secretary General of the Islamic-Christian Front for Defending Jerusalem and its Holy Sites: "...[Israel is working] to fan religious hatred ... [Israel's actions of] taking over Jerusalem, walling it off, separating it, and preventing Muslims and Christians free access to Jerusalem and its holy sites amount to a declaration of war on the ideas of interfaith dialogue and rapprochement... if Israel truly believes in peace it should remove its hand from the city of love and peace and open its gates to all, so that the city may resume it historical place as a city of prayer, a stage for interfaith dialogue and a meeting place for different civilizations..."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 29, 2008]
4. Invocations to join the struggle against Israel.
"The National Action Council in the Rafah district in the Southern part of the Gaza Strip advocated to unite the efforts and the facilities and to direct them toward withstanding the Occupier's aggression, and the plans of the Zionist terrorist organizations who aim to harm the Al-Aqsa Mosque and all the other holy sites in Palestine."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2008]
"The Mufti called upon the Arab states and the Islamic Council to get involved in order to put an end to these acts of aggression against the civilization and set of beliefs of the Islamic nation and the Palestinian people."
[Al-Ayyam, Aug. 13, 2008]
"Al-Aqsa Institute, therefore, issued a call to the Palestinian residents of Israel [literally 'Palestine's internal residents'] and the residents of Al-Quds [Jerusalem], men, women and children, to continue attending the blessed Mosque every day, and to spend time in it and to defend it [Ribat], because continuous presence is considered the best and effective means for achieving the goal."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 22, 2008]
"Al-Aqsa Institute warned against escalated Israeli sanctions against the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. It said that the Israeli moves demand Palestinian, Arab and Islamic responses and both popular and official efforts to save the Mosque and thwart any aggression it is subject to."
[Al-Ayyam, July 23, 2008]
"The Institute [The High Islamic Council in Jerusalem] appealed to our supporters, the Murabbites [struggling to maintain Muslim control under threat of non-Muslim conquest] of Jerusalem-Beit al-Makkdes and its surrounding areas, to pay a visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to protect the Mosque, which is threatened by greed. The institute, furthermore, called on the Arab and Muslim world to take on the  responsibility for Jerusalem and its holy sites and to end Israeli occupation.
[Al-Ayyam, Aug. 20, 2008]
"Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi prompted Muslims to support Al-Quds [Jerusalem] by attending Al-Aqsa Mosque [prayer-services] starting next Friday in order to remove the blockade that the Occupation imposes on it with the intention of isolating Al-Quds from its Palestinian environs and isolating Al-Aqsa Mosque... Tamimi emphasized the Arab and Islamic character of Al-Quds, and that it is the eternal Palestinian religious and national State-Capital. Tamimi called upon the people, the leadership and institutions of the Arab and Islamic nations to support the Al-Aqsa Mosque, to defend the city of Al-Quds, and to support the steadfastness of Jerusalem's residents in their efforts to thwart the Zionist plans of Judaizing Jerusalem and erasing its Arab and Islamic identity."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 5, 2008]