This morning, Arab attackers attempted to shoot innocent bystanders at the Lions Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, leaving behind three wounded, of which two are still in critical condition. They subsequently fled to the Temple Mount, where they were ultimately shot dead by Israeli security forces. For the first time in years, the Temple Mount remains closed, for tourists as well as for Friday prayers.
Another hideous attack took place shortly after 7am this morning, perpetrated by three Arabs coming from the Temple Mount towards Lions Gate. According to information available on social media, all three were holders of blue (Israeli) residence cards. Their victims are three Israelis, two of whom are reported to be in critical condition. After the attack, the terrorists fled back onto the Temple Mount, followed by security forces, who ultimately shot them dead. The Temple Mount remains closed, prohibiting visits by tourists as well as Arabs from coming for Friday prayers.
Several questions arise.
How is it possible that weapons can be smuggled onto the Temple Mount, from where the attackers reportedly started out on their killing spree? Not only is this a question at security forces, but also at the Arab population at large, who revere the Mount as one of Islam’s holiest sites. At the same time, the Arabs have denied Jews any rights to the Temple Mount, where both the First and Second Temple have stood, making the Mount the holiest site in Judaism. In an initial statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Benyamin Netanyahu vowed to maintain the status quo, while several politicians from the political right demanded that Jewish prayer be allowed on the Temple Mount. The status quo, essentially an agreement reached between Israel and Jordan after the Six-Days-War in 1967, and renewed most recently after the Second Intifada in 2004, leaves the Temple Mount under the control of an Islamic religious body, the Waqf, with security being provided by Israel police forces. The former see their principal function in harassing visiting tourist groups and Israelis, to whom any execution of religious functions is prohibited by the agreements. Arabs maintain that a visit by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon resulted in the outbreak of the Second Intifada, a claim which has been proven false. Arab propaganda has made extensive use of claims in the past, that Israel attempts to “change the status quo” on the Temple Mount. At the same time, the Waqf has engaged in acts that aim at erasing Jewish connections to the site. Any resolution to thew Arab-Israel conflict must therefore attempt to bridge these gaps, which so far has been one of the major stumbling blocks towards peace.
In my opinion, the Arabs are forfeiting any legitimate claims by allowing for violence to spread from the sanctity of the religious sites on the Mount, while at the same time – in true Islamic fashion – maintaining to have superior rights based on the fact that they are building their mosques on the ruins of the Temple. For as long as the world sides with the Arabs’ dubious claims to the Mount, it is incumbent on Jews in the diaspora to demonstrate the link that the spirit of Judaism has maintained across the centuries with Jerusalem. It is for us to educate the world as to who is using Jerusalem as a political pawn, and for whom there is a true bond to the city and its heritage.
UPDATE: The two policemen who had been seriously injured, have succumbed to their wounds. They were part of the Druze community in Israel, may their memories be a blessing.