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Op-Ed: Crisis at Temple Mount is about removing Israel

Stephen E. Hughes explains that the crisis that has been brewing at the Temple Mount has little to do with the metal detectors that were placed by the Israeli government and then removed in light of the fierce uproar among the Muslim population in Israel and the West Bank.
Metal detectors at the Temple Mount Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The most visited city in Israel is Jerusalem, which receives approximately 3.4 million tourists annually. Tens of thousands of tourists from Muslim and Arab countries visited the Israeli capital last year, with Indonesia and Turkey topping the list. The first half of 2017 recorded the best six months ever in the history of incoming tourism, according to Tourism Ministry statement, with 1.74 million tourists during the first half of 2017, up 20% from 2016. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel recorded a 76% increase in tourism from China; a 30% increase in tourism from Russia and a 20% increase in tourism from the US in the first half of 2017 as compared to the same six months in 2016.

Jerusalem is a holy place and home for the world’s three great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Israel is precariously maintaining an environment where our democratic, our sacred religious ideologies are guarded. Human rights and the values of liberty are upheld. Nowhere in the Middle East or Africa are these three prominent faiths so protected, as they are in Jerusalem. Israel is their safeguard, their shield.

After a series of serious escalations with Arab-Palestinian terrorist assaults in Jerusalem, Israeli authorities were forced to add additional layers of security. These were simple measures for the Temple Mount: metal detectors and security cameras. These are based on the realities of a volatile and deadly the Middle East. With the emergence of ISIS in the Sinai, 2016 was the deadliest in the history of suicide terrorism. In 2016, there were 469 suicide bombings carried out by 800 perpetrators in 28 countries, causing the deaths of about 5,650 people. ISIS was the leading perpetrator of suicide bombings worldwide, being directly or indirectly responsible for approximately 70 percent.  Also coupled to these facts are the furious hatred and incitements from Arab-Palestinian leadership, Hamas, and the Muslim world. 

After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel regained the Temple Mount. The defense minister at the time, Moshe Dayan, met with Muslim leaders and reached a new agreement. The Jordanian Waqf would continue to administer the Noble Sanctuary.

However, Jews would not be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, Jews and other faiths could only enter as tourists. The alleged or actual claims of multiple ownerships of religious sites are not uncommon and found throughout the world. A collection of essays entitled, Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites: Religion, Politics, and Conflict Resolution, examines such disputes over shared religious sites. 

The terrorist shooting attack on July 14, 2017, involved three Israeli-Arabs attackers who came from the Temple Mount and opened fire with machine guns at two Israeli-Druze Border Policemen near the Old City’s Lions’ Gate exit, killing them. The attackers then fled back to the Temple Mount complex where they fought with more Border Policemen, costing the terrorists their lives. They carried knives, the Carl Gustav- style submachine gun and handguns. Last month, an Israeli female Border Police officer, Hadas Malka, aged 23, was stabbed to death during a coordinated effort by three Arab Palestinians extremists near the Damascus Gate, the site of several terrorist attacks in recent years.

Islamic officials in Jerusalem, including Sheikh Azzam Khatib Tamimi, head of the Waqf, have ordered for the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras, calling them “collective punishment” and a violation of religious freedom. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party called for a Day of Rage. The Iranian-backed Hamas in Gaza called on its followers to wage a “religious war” against Israel and has been firing rockets sporadically into Israel. A chorus of various anti-Semitic Islamic governments threw their support behind Islamic officials in Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas.  

Someone, please tell me why Arab-Palestinians do not want to make the Temple Mount a safer peaceful place?  Tell me why they would allow fire arms, knives and other weapons brought into the Temple Mount?

Tell me why they would rather make it easier for ISIS (or other) suicide bombers to attack, maiming them and their children, than walk through a metal detector?



JOL Blogger | Stephen Hughes

Stephen E Hughes spent 13 years with the U.S. Army. Half of Hughes’ time in the military was spent overseas. Hughes is currently the Association of Geo-Strategic Analysis CEO and the author of several books concerning Iran and the Middle East.


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