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The PA initiated clashes on the Temple Mount

Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus  |

A guide to the Temple Mount published in 1925 by the Supreme Moslem Council of Mandate Palestine declares that its "identity with Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute." This senior Muslim authority repeated this confirmation of Jewish and Christian traditions in 1950 in a new guide, when Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were then under Jordanian rule. Despite these repeated affirmations by the top Muslim authority of the land, the Palestinian Authority is constantly attempting to rewrite even Muslim tradition, by denying the Jewish nature of the Temple Mount. Accordingly, it refers to visits by Jews to this holy site as "invasions" and calls on Palestinians and the International community to defend the site and prevent its "Judaization." The PA deceptively refers to the entire Temple Mount as the "Al-Aqsa Mosque", even though the actual mosque sits on a relatively small area in the south-western corner of the mount.

On Sunday, Israel marked the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. According to Jewish tradition, on that day both the first and second Temples were destroyed. The same day marked the start of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice]

While some sources have blamed the Sunday clashes on the Jordanians, Palestinian Media Watch can show that it was the PA who was most instrumental in instigating the clashes and ensuing violence.

In an attempt to disrupt Jews' right to access the Mount on Sunday, the PA took a number of steps, including changing the times of the Muslim prayers on the Mount and calling for mosques around Jerusalem to remain closed in order to "recruit" as many people as possible to defend the site against the "invasions."

While the published time schedule for the 5 daily Muslim prayers set the first prayer time for 4:29, the second (last morning prayer) for 6:30, and the third (first afternoon prayer) for 12:44, on Aug. 9, 2019 the PA-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories decided to delay the second morning prayer to 7:30. The goal was to ensure that as many people would be present on the Temple Mount when the Jews were scheduled to start arriving. 

Significantly, the morning prayers on Monday after the clashes, when Jews were prohibited from entering the Temple Mount, reverted to their original scheduling.

Broadcasting from the Temple Mount, PA TV showed how this tactic had succeeded and that as the Jews were planning to enter the Mount through the Mughrabi (Morroco) Gate crowds of Palestinians gathered at the site in order to prevent the entrance of the Jews. When the time came, at 9:10, the Mufti called for an impromptu prayer session at the entrance to the gate. 

Official PA TV reporter: "Viewers, we will now try to reach [PA Grand] Mufti of Jerusalem [and Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council Chairman] Sheikh Muhammad Hussein. Your Honor, Sheikh, could you explain for us-"

Man: "We want to pray."

Reporter: "They are now praying. His Honor the mufti is now holding prayers in front of the Mughrabi Gate. As he just told us, the prayer in front of the Mughrabi Gate is an act of protest...
How do you explain the prayer being held now - the afternoon prayer now? Is this a scene of protest in response to the intent of the occupation and herds of settlers to break in [to the Al-Aqsa Mosque] (refers to Jews visiting the Temple Mount on Tisha B'Av on Aug. 11, 2019, which coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha; see note below -Ed.)?"

Al-Aqsa Mosque "guard" Fadi Alyan: "Of course the Muslims are taking different steps to prevent the break-ins to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. Of course [this is] the late morning prayer (i.e., not a mandatory prayer), and not the afternoon [prayer]. Strange sights are taking place at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, both the postponement of the holiday prayer by an hour (i.e., from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. in order to block Jews from visiting), and holding the late morning prayer."

Reporter: "In other words, the prayers are being held at a different time than usual in order to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque?"

Fadi Alyan: "Exactly. The prayers are being held at a different time than usual in order to defend [it] and reinforce that this site belongs completely to the Muslims."

Official PA TV, Holiday Morning, Aug. 11, 2019

In preparation for these events, the Mufti had already repeated the claim that "the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the sole right of the Muslims, and that neither the occupation authorities nor anyone else has a right to interfere in its matters..." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 7, 2019]

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Advisor on Religious Affairs and Supreme Shari'ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash gave similar reasoning for delaying the morning prayers, in a post on his Facebook account. Al-Habbash, called for Ribat, which is Islamic resistance and refers to anything from outright terror to quiet protest, and added what appears to have been a direct call to violence: "the Al-Aqsa Mosque is our Jihad." 

Posted text: "Postponing the [Eid Al-Adha] (i.e., the Sacrifice Feast) prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the sacrifice of the sacrifices of those carrying out Ribat in Jerusalem to the second day of the holiday so that people will be available to carry out Ribat at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to resist the Israeli plans to invade the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first day of the holiday (which coincides with the Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av see note below -Ed.). Our mosque is our Ribat and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is our Jihad."

Facebook page of Supreme Shari'ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Aug. 9, 2019

In order to ensure that the Palestinians came to the Temple Mount instead of attending their local mosques, the Mufti decided to close all of the Jerusalem mosques.

Official PA TV host: "We will note that a statement by Head of the Supreme Muslim Council Dr. Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council signed by [Council Chairman and PA Grand Mufti] Muhammad Hussein, and also the Islamic Waqf Council led by [Council Chairman] Abdul Azim Salhab was published yesterday [Aug. 8, 2019] on the necessity to close all of the Jerusalem mosques on Sunday [Aug. 11, 2019], in order to mobilize the largest possible number of people for prayer at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque plazas."

Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, Aug. 9, 2019

Having successfully initiated the violence on the Temple Mount in an attempt to prevent Jews from visiting Judaism's most holy site on the day the commemorates the destruction of both the Temples, Al-Habbash then attempted to use the violence as an excuse to inflame the sensibilities of all Muslims. 

"Supreme Shari'ah Judge and PA President Mahmoud Abbas Advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations Mahmoud Al-Habbash called on Muslims throughout the world to defend the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Israeli occupation's plots and its barbaric harm, of which the world saw another chapter of its racism today [Aug, 11, 2019] with its break-in to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its attack against worshippers there.

In a press statement today (Sunday), Al-Habbash requested of Muslims in all of the world's states to make a pilgrimage to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to carry out Ribat there with their Palestinian brothers in order to participate with them in the battle in defense of the sanctity of the First Direction of Prayer (i.e., Jerusalem) and the third holiest site against the criminal attack that is being committed by the state of occupation and terrorist colonialists who are desecrating the plazas of the Noble Sanctuary since the morning in a blatant strike against Muslim sensibilities on their blessed Eid Al-Adha day (i.e., the Sacrifice Feast)."

WAFA, official PA news agency, Aug. 11, 2019

Ironically, while it was the PA who was trying to prevent the Jews from exercising their right to enter the Temple Mount, Al-Habbash hypocritically called these visits "racism". 

PA Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Dr. Laila Ghannam, similarly justified those carrying out Ribat and condemned the world's silence in the face of the "attacks against the worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Posted text: "El-Bireh - Aug. 11, 2019 - [District] Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Dr. Laila Ghannam, and alongside her the district's security council, laid wreaths of flowers on the Martyrs' graves in the city of El-Bireh the morning of the [Eid Al-Adha] (i.e., the Sacrifice Feast)...
Governor Ghannam... blessed the people of Jerusalem and those carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict/war over land claimed to be Islamic) at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. She noted that our people will continue to defend its holy sites, the Islamic and Christian ones, and will not allow them to be treated as abandoned.
She condemned the world's silence in the face of the occupation's attacks against the worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the morning of the blessed Eid Al-Adha... and demanded that the world act quickly to stop the attacks and the Judaization that are taking place in Jerusalem."
The picture shows the Ramallah and EliBireh district's security council before the Martyrs' graves in El-Bireh.

Facebook page of District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Laila Ghannam, Aug. 11, 2019

In anticipation of the violence, last week the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates already prepared the PA narrative, blaming the violence on US President Donald Trump's decisions regarding Jerusalem and the international community's silence to the so-called "Judaization" of the "Al-Aqsa Mosque."

"The ministry emphasized that [US President Donald] Trump's decisions regarding Jerusalem (i.e., the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the transfer of the US embassy there; see note below) and the international community's silence... are whetting the appetite of the extremists in Israel to implement more Judaization plans against the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and to try and impose Israeli sovereignty over it - if not to destroy it and build the so-called Temple in its place."

Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 6, 2019

Tisha B'Av - Jewish day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem (586 BCE and 70 CE) and the forced exile of most of the Jewish people from the land of Israel.
 

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