The metal detectors that were supposed to prevent Muslims from smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount compound, and which were removed by the Israeli authorities this week, have a more accurate name: "lie detectors." They have exposed Palestinian lies and the real reason behind Palestinian anger.
Israel apparently removed the metal detectors from the gates of the Temple Mount as part of a deal to end an unexpected crisis with Jordan over the killing of two Jordanian men by an Israeli embassy security officer in Amman. The security officer says he was acting in self-defense after being attacked by one of the Jordanians with a screwdriver.
The crisis erupted when the Jordanian authorities insisted on interrogating the officer -- a request that was rejected by Israel because the officer enjoys diplomatic immunity. US intervention and a phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah helped end the crisis peacefully and quickly, and the officer and the rest of the Israeli embassy staff were permitted to leave Jordan and head back to Israel.
Shortly after the embassy staff returned to Israel, the Israeli authorities started removing the metal detectors that were installed at the entrances to the Temple Mount after terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers on July 14. The move sparked a wave of rumors and speculation, according to which the Jordanians allowed the embassy staff to return home in exchange for the removal of the metal detectors.
Israel and Jordan have denied any link between the shooting incident in Amman and the removal of the metal detectors.
The crisis that erupted between Israel and Jordan over the killing of the two Jordanians was solved in less than 48 hours -- much to the dismay of the Palestinians.
The Palestinians were hoping to exploit the crisis to exacerbate tensions between Amman and Jerusalem. Their ultimate goal: to cause the Jordanians to scrap their peace treaty with Israel and return to the state of war with the "Zionist enemy." The Palestinians were also hoping to exploit the crisis to incite Jordanians against Israel and the Hashemite monarchy.
Fortunately, the Jordanian authorities did not fall into the Palestinian trap. They realized that it is in their own interest to resolve the crisis swiftly and peacefully. King Abdullah was wise enough not to allow the Palestinians to drag him into a confrontation with Israel.
Since the installation of the metal detectors at the Temple Mount, the Palestinians have been waging yet another campaign of fabrications and distortions against Israel. This Palestinian blood libel claims that Israel is seeking to "change the status quo" at the Temple Mount by introducing new security measures such as metal detectors and surveillance cameras at the gates to the holy site.
Yet if anyone has violated the status quo it is the Palestinians themselves.
Status Quo Violation Number One: For the past two years, the Palestinians have been trying to prevent Jews from touring the Temple Mount -- a practice that has been allowed since 1967.
Status Quo Violation Number Two: The Palestinians and their supporters have long turned the Temple Mount into a battlefield for clashing with Israeli policemen and Jewish visitors. In an ongoing arrangement that ought to interest the international community, they pay Muslim men and women salaries to come to the compound and harass policemen and Jewish visitors by hurling insults at them and throwing stones and petrol bombs. These individuals belong to an outlawed group known as the Murabitun. This is a group of Muslim fanatics who receive money from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel to do their utmost to stop Jews from entering the Temple Mount.
Status Quo Violation Number Three: Over the past two decades, the Waqf (Islamic Trust) that manages the affairs of the mosques on the Temple Mount, and other parties, have been carrying out illegal excavation and construction work at the site in a bid to create irreversible facts on the ground. The Waqf and the Palestinian Authority claim that the excavation work is aimed at refuting Jewish claims to the Temple Mount and showing the world that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem.
Status Quo Violation Number Four: The Palestinians and their supporters have been using the Temple Mount compound as a platform for spewing anti-Semitism and calls to murder Jews and all "infidels." This abuse of the holy site as a podium for spreading Palestinian poison is far from a new practice. Palestinians and other Muslims have been doing this at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other mosques around the world for decades. Take, for example, when the imam at Al-Aqsa Mosque predicted that the "White House would turn black, with the help of God."
This prayer, attended by thousands of Muslim worshippers, came only a few weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks. Last week, another imam prayed to God that Israeli policemen guarding the Temple Mount would be widowed and orphaned.
These are only a handful of the countless examples of how mosques are being used to indoctrinate the hearts and minds of Muslims with hate.
Status Quo Violation Number Five: The murder of two policemen on July 14 is the mother of all status quo violations. Until the murder, Muslims had resorted to less deadly weapons such as stones and petrol bombs to attack Jews and policemen. July 14 represents the first time that Muslims used firearms at the Temple Mount. While it is not unusual to see Muslims blowing up mosques and committing atrocities against fellow Muslims in many Arab and Islamic countries, the shooting attack at the Temple Mount was still unprecedented.
Smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount is a grave desecration of the holy site. Murdering two police officers, who were stationed there to safeguard the site and protect Muslim worshippers, takes the level of violation and desecration to new lows. It is worth noting that the two police officers were not murdered during a confrontation or a violent incident. One of them was shot in the back while he was standing at one of the entrances to the Temple Mount.
After the July 14 murder, Palestinians began waging daily protests by refusing to enter the Temple Mount through metal detectors installed by the Israeli authorities to prevent weapons smuggling for the safety of the Muslim worshippers themselves.
Instead, Palestinians gather every evening at the entrances to the Temple Mount, where they complete their prayers with a volley of stones and petrol bombs lodged at police officers.
Crucially, and contrary to Palestinian claims, there has been no Israeli decision to ban Muslims from entering the Temple Mount.
Rather, we are witnessing precisely the opposite situation: there has been a Palestinian decision banning Muslims from entering the Temple Mount until Israel removes any security measures, whether metal detectors or surveillance cameras. This particular, and serious, breach of the status quo on the part of the Palestinians and Muslims has yet to receive appropriate mention: for the first time since 1967, the Palestinians are denying Muslim worshippers free access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Unsurprisingly, the removal of the metal detectors this week has not sated the Palestinians' and Waqf's lust for Jewish blood. Quite the contrary: the removal has increased their appetite, voracious as they are for Israeli capitulation and retreat. Now the Palestinians are demanding an end to all security measures imposed after the murder of the two officers on July 14.
So, here we are in a situation where Israel is damned if it does and damned if it does not.
In other words, the Palestinians and the Islamic religious authorities are protesting against security measures that are intended to save the lives of Muslim worshippers and prevent the desecration of their holy sites by terrorists and rioters. They are protesting because Israel is trying to make it hard for them to murder Jews. The message is: How dare you try to stop us from murdering Jews?
To clarify what is actually going on: it is not the security measures that really anger the Palestinians; for them, this crisis is not about a metal detector or a security camera. Rather, it is about sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Jerusalem and the whole of Israel. For the Palestinians, the real struggle is not over the Temple Mount, but over the presence of Jews in what they consider "occupied Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea."
In the face of the metal detector removal, the Palestinians are calling for yet more "days of rage." The Palestinians were hoping to drag the Arab and Islamic countries into a confrontation with Israel. This is a hope they have thus far failed to achieve, especially as the short-lived crisis with Jordan proved. The Palestinians now feel disappointed that they were unable to drive a wedge between Israel and Jordan.
Palestinians near Jerusalem's Old City protest Israel's installation of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount, on July 21, 2017. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
So, what else is on the Palestinian agenda of violence? They are aiming to stop Jews from visiting the Temple Mount. They are also hoping to show Israel and the rest of the world that sovereignty over the Temple Mount belongs to Muslims and to Muslims alone. In short, this is about strong-arming Israel and portraying it as weak and volatile and scared -- a country ripe for intimidation and taking apart.
First, the Palestinians demanded that Israel dismantle metal detectors. Then, they were demanding that Israel end all forms of security measures at the Temple Mount. It is not difficult to imagine what the next demand will be. It is not the security measures that the Palestinians want dismantled. It is Israel that they want dismantled.
Thus, dismantled or intact, the metal detectors have played a vital role by exposing Palestinian and Muslim lies and blood libels.
Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.