The deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said Friday that the Gaza-ruling terror group intends “to join” the new “Al-Aqsa intifada,” Israel’s Channel 10 reported.
“Jews are trying to take over the Al-Aqsa mosque but they will not succeed,” Haniyeh said in a sermon for Friday prayers, repeating the claim that Jews are trying to take over the Temple Mount.
“We will liberate Al-Aqsa and we as Gazans intend to join” the current uprising, Haniyeh said. “We call for escalating and deepening the intifada… We are proud of you, the heroes of knives,” he added.
Israel gained eastern Jerusalem along with its holy sites from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War. Currently, the Temple Mount is administered by the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trust overseen by Jordan that limits non-Muslim visitation and bans Jewish prayer. A recent increase in Jewish visitation to the site has been led by Jewish activist groups that have been calling for greater Jewish access to the Temple Mount as well as prayer rights there.
But according to newly released statistics by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, only 12,000 Jews were actually recorded to have entered the Temple Mount last year, compared to 4 million Muslims and 200,000 Christians. The Jewish figure converts to just 0.3 percent of the total visitation to the holy site.
According to Palestinian Media Watch, “Both Fatah and Hamas have generated and sustained religious hatred by disseminating the libel that Israel is attempting to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque…The Al-Aqsa libel includes numerous fabrications: Israel was behind a mosque fire in 1969; Israel is currently digging under the mosque in order to topple it; Israel plans to replace it with a new Temple; Israel is preparing a missile attack on the mosque, and more. This libel has been actively promoted since 1998.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Thursday, “The status quo protects the right of Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount, as well as the freedom of all people, whether Muslims, Christians, Jews or others, to visit the Mount. The recent series of attacks against Israelis is the direct result of incitement by radical Islamist and terrorist elements … [and] includes the spread of false claims against Israel, in particular regarding the status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”
“The Palestinian Authority, including its chairman Mahmoud Abbas, are using inflammatory Islamic rhetoric to spread false and malicious claims against Israel, and treat those who engage in the murder of Israelis as heroes…..Radical Islamists are bringing explosive devices, Molotov cocktails and other weaponry onto the Temple Mount, thus deliberately desecrating, damaging and endangering the holy site and turning it into a battle field.”