Days before the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur, Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs Gaza, vowed a “religious war” against Israel over what it called “violations against Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque”. The Islamist ire is over the rise in Jewish visits to Judaism’s holiest site.
Speaking at a press conference in Gaza’s Omari Mosque, Mahmud Zahar, a senior member of Hamas, warned “the continuation of the Zionist aggression and their brutality against Jerusalem and the holy shrines will be the cause of a major battle.”
The threat comes after Beyadenu, a Temple Mount activist organization, announced that a record 50,000 Jews ascended to the Temple Mount over the past year.
The Palestinians claim that the Temple Mount is holy because it is the site of Mohammad’s nighttime journey to the “Aqsa Mosque” (the further mosque) to pray. This claim is problematic as there was no mosque at the site during Mohammad’s lifetime, and the Mosque on the Temple Mount was built 70 years after Mohammad died. Most Sunni believe the location of this “further mosque” is in Al Juraana, Saudi Arabia.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, begins at sundown on Sunday and ends at sundown on Tuesday.
Some media incorrectly reported that Temple Mount activists blew the shofar on the Temple Mount last week. The right to religious freedom is mandated by Israeli law and includes such activities, the Israeli police prohibit Jewish religious expression on the Temple Mount due to fears of Palestinian violence. But no Jews blew the shofar on the Temple Mount last week. Two weeks ago, former Knesset Member Rabbi Yehudah Glick was arrested for playing a recording of a shofar on his cellphone. This week, Rabbi Glick was arrested for blowing a shofar in an area adjacent to the Temple Mount but the court ruled that the police had exceeded their authority and Rabbi Glick had not broken any laws. Nonetheless, Rabbi Glick was arrested again the following day for the same actions.
Omer Barlev, Israel’s minister in charge of police, announced this week that Jewish visitation to the site would take place during the holidays.