"The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are ours. They are all ours, and they [Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah. Every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah." — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Image source: MEMRI)
Palestinians have once again been caught lying to the world by claiming that Jews are "desecrating" the Islamic holy sites, in particular the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
If anyone is desecrating the mosque and other holy sites it is Palestinians themselves.
In 2002, Palestinian terrorists stormed into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, but the global Christian response was muted. The terrorists stayed inside the church for 39 days and left behind dirty blankets and mattresses, lighters and cigarette butts and "the reek of fecal matter." One priest complained that the terrorists had also desecrated the church by smoking and drinking alcohol.
On Friday morning, April 15, hundreds of Palestinian "worshippers" barricaded themselves inside the Aqsa Mosque and clashed with Israeli police officers.
The rioters, armed with rocks, iron bars and fireworks, arrived at the mosque early in the morning and were seen bringing rocks into the mosque and blocking its main gate with wooden and metal barriers.
As soon as the rioters entered the mosque compound on the Temple Mount and before clashing with the police, they raised flags and banners of Hamas, a Palestinian group designated as a terrorist organization by the US, European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan and other countries.
Apparently Palestinians do not consider bringing rocks, iron bars and other light weapons into a mosque an act of desecration.
Apparently Palestinians do not consider hoisting the flags and banners of a terrorist organization at a holy site an act of desecration.
Apparently Palestinians do not consider hurling rocks and glass bottles at people at the nearby Western Wall, the most sacred site in the world used by the Jewish people for prayer, an act of desecration.
Apparently Palestinians do not consider throwing rocks and shooting fireworks at police officers at the mosque compound an act of desecration.
The riots that were initiated by the Palestinians at the Temple Mount on April 15 were completely unprovoked. The violence erupted after Palestinian leaders and groups falsely claimed that "Jewish extremists" were planning to conduct a ritual of animal sacrifice at the site to celebrate the Passover holiday.
Israel denied the allegations and sent messages to the Palestinians assuring them that Jews would not be permitted to carry out any "provocations" on the Temple Mount.
Even senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri admitted, hours before the violence broke out, that his group did receive such assurances. According to al-Arouri, the Israeli message was relayed to Hamas through unnamed "mediators."
Yet all the attempts by Israel to refute the false allegations of the Palestinians did not help.
The Palestinian blood libel concerning the alleged desecration of the Islamic holy sites by Jews originated several years ago with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself. In 2015, Abbas said:
"The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are ours. They are all ours, and they [Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah. Every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah."
Shortly after Abbas's speech, Palestinians launched a wave of terrorist attacks that included stabbings, shootings and car-rammings.
The Palestinians who set out to murder Jews thought they were heeding the call of their president to defend their mosque against the "filthy feet" of Jews. By murdering dozens of Jews for the sake of the mosque, the terrorists were actually themselves defiling the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque. How? They invoked the name of the mosque to justify a murder spree against innocent Jews.
The small number of Jews who have peacefully toured the outdoor Temple Mount area in the past few years have never even set foot inside the Aqsa Mosque or on the nearby Dome of the Rock. The Jewish visitors do not go there to assault or humiliate Muslims. They go there as part of organized tours that are coordinated with the Israeli authorities.
If anyone is assaulted, harassed and degraded, it is the Jewish visitors. Videos of Palestinians cursing and shouting at the Jewish visitors have been circulating for years on social media platforms. In addition, Palestinians have attempted to physically attack the Jewish visitors.
Notably, the renewed Palestinian claims about Jews desecrating the Islamic holy sites came even as Palestinians vandalized Joseph's Tomb in the Palestinian city of Nablus.
The site, where according to Jewish tradition the biblical figure Joseph is said to be buried, was attacked and vandalized twice by Palestinian rioters in the past week.
This was not the first time that Palestinians attacked and damaged Joseph's Tomb. Although some reports claimed that the Palestinian Authority promised to help renovate the site, in the end it was the Israeli army that had to send large forces to repair the damage.
Joseph's Tomb was targeted by Palestinians for one reason: to prevent Jews from arriving there to pray. Two religious Jewish men who tried to arrive at the site after learning of the vandalism were shot and wounded by Palestinians.
The vandalism and the attempt to deny Jews access to Joseph's Tomb is actual desecration of a holy site, as opposed to peaceful tours of Jews to the Temple Mount and the free access Muslims have to all their mosques in Jerusalem.
The international community, meanwhile, continues to ignore the Palestinian desecration of holy sites. Journalists are reporting how Israeli policemen "raided" the Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday morning, without pointing out that Palestinian rioters had filled the mosque with stones and iron bars hours before the police entered.
The Palestinian claims that Jews are defiling the holy sites are intended not only to incentivize Palestinians to carry out terrorist attacks, but also to rally all Muslims against Israel. The false accusations promote antisemitism and provide fuel to Israel-haters around the world, especially, sadly, on US university campuses.
This is all happening while the Biden administration airily disregards endless Palestinian blood libels and vicious incitement against both Israel and the Jews. During a recent visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians, he stated:
"We'll work to prevent actions by either side that could raise tensions. That includes settlement expansion, settler violence, home demolitions, evictions, payments to people convicted of terrorism, incitements to violence."
Blinken's remarks show that he considers the construction of new homes for Jews more dangerous than the murder of Israelis on the streets of Israeli cities.
Prominently, Blinken did not threaten to suspend US financial aid to the Palestinians over the payments to the families of terrorists who murdered Jews and the ongoing incitement to attack Israelis.
Take note: as long as Blinken considers the construction of apartments for Jews a greater threat than shooting and stabbing Israeli men and women at shopping malls and bars, Palestinians will not cease their blood payments and murderous incitement.
Unless the US administration makes it unmistakably clear that the Palestinians will pay dearly for continuing to reward terrorists and their families, the Palestinians will not even slow down either desecrating holy sites or committing their terror attacks.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.