Just as the wave of terror which has engulfed Israel in recent months appears to be ebbing, Palestinian leadership is ramping up its incitement. Ynet reported Wednesday that the increase in aggressive messages against the Jewish state is timed to peak for Passover, which falls on April 22 this year.
As the Psalm (83) indicates, Israel’s enemies incite one another towards Israel’s destruction. Hamas, the ruling party in the Gaza Strip, issued an official statement titled “al-Aqsa will remain the primary source of inspiration for the young avengers of the Jerusalem intifada”. Hamas called upon Palestinian and Israeli Arabs to “rally around the al-Aqsa Mosque and protect it from the mass invasion“, adding that Arab youth would not be be fazed by Israel’s attempts to “create a reality in which Palestinians are denied entry to the Temple Mount to pray.”
In addition, a short documentary claiming Israel has undertaken archaeological excavations in Silwan, leading up to the Mugrabi Gate and beneath the al-Aqsa Mosque, with the intent of damaging the mosque, has been circulating on social media. The accusations come from Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, who is interviewed in the film. He demands “stopping the Israeli attacks on the al-Aqsa Mosque”, and calls on Jordan to launch a media campaign to reveal “Israeli aggression” towards the mosque.
Another inciting image circulating is a photo of Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, with his face circled as if to mark him as a target. In October, Glick celebrated one year since he survived an attempt on his life for advocating in favor of universal access — including prayer rights — to the Jews’ holiest site.
Even in the 1920’s, it was rumors that Jews were trying to take over the al-Aqsa mosque that led to the Hebron Massacre of 1929, in which 67 Jews were murdered by their Arab neighbors. Shortly thereafter, the survivors of the small Jewish community in Hebron were forcibly evacuated by the British.
It is not unusual for Palestinian incitement to rise around Jewish holidays. Those responsible use the holiday season to libel Israel and the Jewish people, claiming — falsely — that they will overtake the Temple Mount as part of their celebrations. In fact, a similar increase was observed around the High Holidays in the fall, leading up to violent confrontations on the Temple Mount and an escalation in the West Bank.
A number of measures have been taken to reduce incitement and prevent more violence, including banning the Islamic Movement in November and keeping activists from the Mourabitat and Mourabitoun groups at a distance, even placing some under administrative detention.