“A man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. … Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.” (Mark 5:2, 5)
Israel’s enemies and peace partners alike increased their slanderous claims last month that Israel has incited violence and terrorism against the Palestinians on the Temple Mount. These claims are moving regional leaders in Iran and elsewhere to make aggressive threats.
The Iranian army’s commander-in-chief Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi voiced hope last week for a preliminary strike from Israel on Iran—an act that would give the Islamic Republic an excuse to finally destroy Israel while casting full culpability onto the Jewish state.
“We will certainly destroy Israel,” Salehi said, last Tuesday, at a Tehran parade that began Iran’s Defense Week and commemorated the start of the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War.
During his September 11 speech, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel would not survive another quarter century. Last Tuesday, Salehi underlined this hope.
“We long for Israel to take action against us as soon as possible so we will be able to destroy it before 25 years are up,” Salehi said. (Israel HaYom)
Meanwhile, last Wednesday while speaking to Hajj pilgrims (Muslims who travel to Mecca), Iran’s supreme leader condemned Israel for the “ultimate degree of ruthlessness and evil” in “crimes” toward the Palestinian Arabs.
Khamenei also said that Israel’s police authority over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is an “insult” to the al-Aqsa Mosque.
“The Zionist regime’s crimes in Palestine and repeated insult of the sacred sanctuary of Al-Aqsa Mosque … are the foremost problem for Muslims,” Khamenei said.
Khamenei’s comments to the Muslim pilgrims came one day before a stampede killed at least 700 people in a tent city near Mecca during the Hajj’s final “stoning the devil” ritual. This event mimics the Abraham of Muslim folklore who supposedly rejected the temptations of the devil by stoning him.
In sobering irony, Khamenei accused Israel last Wednesday of “trampling the lives and properties of the oppressed Palestinians.” (Jspace)
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon eased the way for Arab Palestinians living in the eastern territories of Judea and Samaria to visit the Temple Mount plaza for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, “the Festival of the Sacrifice,” on Thursday.
The allowances permitted Muslim men 45 years or older and Muslim women 30 years or older to visit the Temple Mount complex on Thursday, despite continued ethnic-religious tensions in Jerusalem, including rock attacks during the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur.
Of course, Iran is not alone in its incitement.
Last Tuesday, Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas claimed to a Parisian audience that an intifada by the Arab Palestinians is a possibility if violence on the Temple Mount continued “and peace talks with Israel did not resume.”
“What is happening is extremely dangerous, and we do not wish for this situation to continue so that it does not result in chaos and in an intifada [uprising] which we do not want,” Abbas told his audience, while standing beside French President Francois Hollande.
Abbas has a history of claiming that Israel refuses to participate in peace negotiations, leading to talk of sanctions against Israel by world leaders—while the PA has repeatedly rejected sitting down at the table and ignored valid peace deals.
As recently as September 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “prepared to go to Ramallah or anywhere else right now to meet and hold direct negotiations without preconditions.” (TOI)
Netanyahu asked PA representatives at the time to convey to Abbas “that I am willing to meet with him and [to ask] if he is willing.” Netanyahu has called faithfully for conflict resolution, which he believes to be “two states for two peoples—a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the nation-state of the Jewish people.”
The prime minister also rebuked the Palestinian Authority leadership this past week for lying about Israeli actions and security policies on the Temple Mount, and called the PA to “stop its wild incitement.”
At the same time, world leaders have rebuked Israel for maintaining security and defusing Muslim rioters that have plagued the Mount over the high holy days. Israel’s activities include the September 13 seizure of pipe bombs, firecrackers and rocks piled upon prayer rugs that awaited Jewish pilgrims visiting the holy site for the Days of Awe observance between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
For these actions, nations such as Jordan who administers the site has accused Israel of violating the status quo—the agreement that the Muslim Waqf has administrative control over access to the mosques and over the Muslims who are able to pray on the mount. In turn, Israel has security control, and Jews can visit the mount but not enter the mosques or pray anywhere on the platform.
“We are preserving the status quo. We are not violating it and all comments that we intend to harm Muslim holy sites are completely baseless,” Netanyahu said, pointing out that Muslims bringing bombs into the al-Aqsa Mosque to harm Jewish or Israeli visitors are the ones who are altering the status quo. (JP)
This fact has not stopped fingers of accusation from being pointed at Israel. King Abdullah II of Jordan said in Amman earlier this month that he was “very concerned and angered with the recent escalations in Jerusalem, specifically in al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The king reportedly has rejected meetings with Netanyahu to avoid a “business as usual” dynamic while the Temple Mount situation remains tense, stating that the tensions “will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel, and Jordan will have no choice but to take action.”