by Dr. Reuven Berko
Since the Al-Aqsa story managed to spark bloody clashes in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in the past, members of Hamas and the Islamic Movement are trying to revive that same escalation.
A new Palestinian incitement clip has recently been starring on social media. It addresses Israel's alleged schemes to collapse Al-Aqsa mosque by digging beneath it. The clip shows a bearded Islamist, purported to be an archaeologist, striding through an ancient arched tunnel embellished with hyssop and vegetation, who conjures up for the nth time the claim that Jews are digging under the mosque. We've seen similar clips ad nauseam that were produced by Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the now-outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.
Like his Hamas friends who pop out of the Gaza tunnels, we've grown accustomed to seeing Salah and his cohort popping up, in circumstances chosen ahead of time, from tunnels and dark holes in the Jerusalem ground, accusing Israel of planning to destroy Al-Aqsa. We've also been exposed to their goal of causing bloodshed and a regional religious war against Israel. Since the Al-Aqsa story managed to spark bloody clashes in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in the past, members of Hamas and the Islamic Movement are trying to revive that same escalation.
The timing is no coincidence. As part of the recycled attempt to light up the hatred against Jews, "Al-Aqsa is in danger" serves as an Archimedean lever to other achievements. The attempt shows us that the incitement focusing on the mosque always stems from cynical considerations that have nothing to do with its security, which is well-protected by Israel. In this context, it's enough to mention the Islamic Movement being outlawed and the ring of strangulation placed on its activity and resources, as well as the military economic stranglehold on Hamas.
The renewed obsessive concern over Al-Aqsa, which is accompanied by demands to expel Jews from Jerusalem (in the words of Salah), is intended to serve as a religious trigger designed to exploit events like Land Day as part of an attempt to revive the flagging intifada. This is an attempt to throw a spotlight covered by religion onto the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supply a rational explanation for the global Islamist terrorist attacks. In other words: Remove the Jews from Palestine and Jerusalem, and you'll get quiet.
This time, Salah's challenge to us included attacking the agreements between Israel and Jordan as "made up." This in an unprecedented, infuriating attempt to direct the Islamist violence at Jordan, at a time when the Hashemite kingdom is in crisis -- dealing with Salah's friends the Muslim Brotherhood stirring up the radicals, who have recently been joined by immigrants from Syria and Iraq, including subversive Islamic State elements. The aforementioned agreements, which Salah is slandering, give Jordan administrative responsibility for Al-Aqsa, including construction and maintenance, appointments and salaries, and security in coordination with Israel (as the sovereign power), that are related to its preference over the Palestinian Authority on everything pertaining to Islamic holy places in the city.
In the words of the clip's Islamic Indiana Jones, the tunnel is being dug as part of "the Jews latest schemes to knock down Al-Aqsa mosque," but in the same breath he decrees that the tunnel was built in the Umayyad period on Canaanite-Jebusite foundations. In other words: The tunnel is the latest Israeli scheme to collapse Al-Aqsa and also an ancient Islamic tunnel.
To shore up these claims, the Jewish archaeologist and "collaborator" Gideon Sulimani, who was fired from the Israel Antiquities Authority, was brought in, as usual. The man justified the Muslims' concerns, claiming that "for the sake of the political agenda, Israel is using the knowledge and credibility of all its archaeologists, who work in secret. Their digs have no plans or defined targets that clarify where they are going. At any moment, they could go under [Al-Aqsa]…"
Dr. Reuven Berko
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