In the current exchange of fire between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel, Hamas's barrages of rockets have not been limited to exclusively Jewish population centers, but have included the holy city of Jerusalem.
At left, a fire in Ashdod caused by a rocket launched from Gaza (Image source: IDF). At right, Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem (Image source: Wikimedia Commons).
For years the leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel have been repeating the claim, ad nauseam, that Israel plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa and establish their Third Temple on the ruins.
After east Jerusalem was wrested from the Jordanians in 1967, Israel declared that united Jerusalem was its capital, despite the objections of the Arabs and Palestinians. Under Israeli rule, all faiths were allowed freedom of worship, which had not been possible for centuries under Byzantine, Arab, Turkish and British rule.
Throughout history, Jerusalem was never the capital of any country except the biblical Jewish kingdoms. It was certainly not the capital of the Palestinians, since throughout history there was never a Palestinian people or country. The Arabs of the 7th century Muslim conquest, or later imported by the Turks and British for manual labor, only began calling themselves "Palestinians" in 1964 with the founding of the PLO, long after the Jews returned to the land promised them by the Qur'an and the other holy books of the monotheistic religions.
If Jerusalem were in any way holy to Hamas or had any religious significance for it, its military-terrorist wing would not be attacking it with missiles. In fact, various Islamic sources explain that Jerusalem was the "Qibla," the direction in which Muslims at the time of the Prophet Muhammed (s.a.a.w.) had to pray, but Muhammad himself, who had determined Jerusalem as the first Qibla, reverted the direction of prayer to Mecca.
Thus many Islamic exegetists claim that Islam's regard for Jerusalem is an apocryphal innovation [bida'a], not based on true Islam. From their perspective, considering Jerusalem as a holy city is Israiliyat, that is, a Jewish belief insinuated into Islam over the centuries as part of a devious Jewish conspiracy.
Fortunately, Hamas's rockets launched to attack Jerusalem were intercepted by the Jews, who, thanks to their technological capabilities, created the Iron Dome missile-defense system, which prevented Hamas from hitting Jerusalem, possibly even Al-Aqsa mosque.
Their creativity is one of the reasons why the Qur'an calls the Jews "the chosen people" and why they received the holy land in perpetuity from Allah (s.w.t.). All the claims that the Jews are planning to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque are false. For years it has been protected and guarded by Israel. If they wanted to, the Jews could let Hamas's missiles land in Jerusalem, possibly destroying the mosques on the Temple Mount, or they could destroy the mosques themselves and claim that Hamas's rockets had done it, but the Jews do not stoop so low.
No, not the Jews but Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in their efforts to destroy the holy city, prove that Jerusalem and its mosques are of no importance to them. The rationale for such base acts is that Hamas is currently a pariah in both the Arab world and the West, considered in the same category as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Al-Nusra Front and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The deliberate rocket attacks on Jerusalem are meant to close Arab-Muslim ranks against Israel and in support of Hamas.
In effect, the leaders of Hamas would have Jerusalem, along with Al-Aqsa mosque, destroyed by their missiles before they would let the Jews have it. But the Jews, do everything in their power to preserve both Jerusalem and the mosques, and therefore will not permit the city to be divided again.
Hamas is only one piece of the puzzle of murderous radical Islamic organizations murdering, raping and robbing their way through the Middle East, Africa and the West as they seek to impose an Islamic caliphate on the entire world. Sunni Islamist terrorists blow up Shi'ite mosques and Shi'ite Islamist terrorists blow up Sunni mosques, and they burn churches and kill Christians wherever they find them in the Arab-Muslim world. They boast about how they defeated the Christian Byzantine Empire and turned the churches in Turkey and the Middle East into mosques. In the Second World War, the Allies did not bomb the churches in Fascist Italy, but the terrorists who have no qualms about attacking Jerusalem with its Al-Aqsa mosque will have no qualms, when the time comes, about attacking Rome and Vatican City.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.