Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that the Jews "have no right to defile with their filthy feet" the Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. "We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah." Pictured: Abbas speaks on PA television, September 16, 2015. (Image source: MEMRI)
The Palestinian terrorists who used axes to murder three Israeli Jewish men in the city of Elad on May 5 have cited the recent violence at the Aqsa Mosque compound (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem as their main motivation for the attack. The violence began when Palestinian rioters attacked Israeli police officers at the compound with fireworks, stones and other objects during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The goal of the rioters: to prevent Jews from conducting peaceful walking tours of the Temple Mount, as has long been officially agreed.
The rioters attacked the police because Palestinian leaders had told them that Jews were planning to "storm into the mosque" during the Jewish holidays.
These leaders, who belong to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, had told their people, falsely, that Israel was planning to "commit crimes" against the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site to Muslims, and the leaders urged Palestinians to converge on the site to "defend" it against the "aggression of Jewish settlers."
The lies of these leaders led thousands of Palestinians to clash with Israeli security forces at the Aqsa Mosque compound. The rioters chanted slogans calling for the slaughter of Jews, the bombing of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities, and "blowing up the head of the Zionists." The rioters praised Hamas, the terrorist group that explicitly calls for the elimination of Israel, and raised the Hamas flag on the mosque's walls.
Importantly, despite the violence, Israeli police enabled tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers to peacefully attended prayers at the compound during Ramadan, thereby refuting more false allegations, that Israel had imposed "restrictions" on the entry of Palestinians into the area.
The riots were the direct result of the vicious incitement and outright falsehoods by the leaders of the PA and Hamas, who continue to spread the libel that the Aqsa Mosque is "in danger" because of the Jews' allegedly evil schemes.
Days before the start of Ramadan, Mahmoud Habbash, adviser on religious affairs to the Palestinian Authority president, claimed (again falsely) that Israel was "preparing to commit a new crime" against the mosque. "The Palestinian response to this crime will not be easy or normal," said Habbash, considered one of the closest aides to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Earlier, the PA minister for religious affairs, Hatem al-Bakri, had warned that visits by Jews to the Temple Mount during the Jewish holidays would be seen by the Palestinians as a "crime" and "provocation." Bakri, like other Palestinian leaders, went on to repeat the old provocative lie that Israel was planning to "change the status quo" at the holy site by dividing it between Jewish and Muslim worshippers in terms of time and space.
Abbas's chief spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, added to the fire by accusing Israel of "waging war" on the Palestinians, Jerusalem and the Muslim and Christian holy sites.
While Abbas and his senior officials were spewing their hatred against Israel and Jews from the West Bank, the leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip were also repeating these same old lies and libels.
Before and during the riots at the Aqsa Mosque compound, Hamas issued several appeals to the Palestinians to arrive at the site to "defend" it and prevent Jews from "desecrating" it. The terrorist group warned that allowing Jews to tour the Temple Mount during the Jewish holiday of Purim would constitute a "crime and provocation and against the feelings of our people and the Islamic nation."
Later, Hamas issued another false and incendiary statement in which it claimed that Jews were planning to conduct "animal sacrifice" and "religious rituals" at the Temple Mount:
"This constitutes a dangerous escalation, a crossing of all red lines, and an assault on the religion and feelings of the Palestinians and all Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan."
Hamas warned that the Palestinians will not allow the Jews to carry out this "criminal scheme."
Less than a week before the two terrorists carried out the axe-murders in Elad, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, a convicted murderer released by Israel in a prisoner exchange agreement with the terrorist group more than 10 years ago, called on all Palestinians to preparing "guns, cleavers, axes, and knives for the defense of the Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem." Sinwar also threatened that his group would target synagogues throughout the world if the Aqsa Mosque is "desecrated" by Jews.
In a written will prepared by one of the terrorists before the attack, he wrote that he and his friend were "prepared to kill and be martyred in order to defend Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque."
Several Palestinian factions have confirmed that the attack in Elad was aimed at "defending Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque. The factions praised the murder of the three Israeli Jewish men as an "heroic operation."
The father of one of the terrorists also confirmed that his son went out to murder Jews as part of a protest against Israeli "attacks and incursions against the Aqsa Mosque." According to the father, his son used to "cry" each time he watched the (nonexistent) "attacks" on the mosque.
The terrorists and their families are saying that they actually believe the lies of the Palestinian leaders that the mosque is being attacked, violated and desecrated by Jews. They are saying that this is the reason they are sending Palestinians to murder Jews on the streets of Israeli cities.
The latest wave of terrorist attacks has continued, although the mosque has not been harmed and the status quo at the Temple Mount remains unchanged. The attacks by Palestinians continue even though Muslims have, and have always had, perfectly free access to the mosque. The attacks by Palestinians continue even though no Jewish "settler" has "stormed" the mosque or even set foot inside it.
The Aqsa Mosque libel is again being used by the Palestinians as an excuse to carry out terrorist attacks to murder Jews. This, of course, is not the first time that Palestinian leaders have lied about either the Jews or the Aqsa Mosque. That goes back at least 80 years.
More recently, in 2015, Abbas said in a pretty unmistakable speech that the Jews "have no right to defile with their filthy feet" the Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. "We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah."
Abbas's speech triggered what became known as the "knife intifada," during which dozens of Israeli Jews were murdered or wounded by Palestinian terrorists.
Now, Abbas, Hamas and other Palestinians are repeating the same lies in order to encourage young Palestinians to take to the streets and murder Jews. Abbas, with whom the Biden administration is currently talking, even had the gall to repeat the blood libel against Israel and Jews when he issued a statement "condemning" the murder of Israeli civilians in Elad.
Abbas's ostensible condemnation included an implicit call to Palestinians to continue the battle to "defend" Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque.
"The President [Abbas] renewed his condemnation of the ongoing attacks against our people and their Muslim and Christian holy sites," read the statement issued by Abbas's office, apparently under pressure from the Biden administration.
Please note: in the very same breath that Abbas "condemns" the murders of Israeli civilians, he continues to push his people to murder Jews for allegedly desecrating the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have become experts at gaming the Biden administration and many in the international community. On the one hand they pretend that they are opposed to violence and terrorism, while on the other hand they explicitly encourage the murder of Jews.
Palestinian leaders not only normally lie to their people about the fictitious "danger" facing the mosque; they also lie to the Americans and Europeans, who continue to believe that Abbas and his team are sincere about making peace with Israel.
Americans and Europeans additionally fail to grasp that by using the Aqsa Mosque as a pretext for terrorism against Jews, the Palestinian leaders are also aiming to rally Muslims against Western "infidels" around the world.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.