Palestinians are up in arms over reports that a fringe religious Jewish group is offering financial reward to anyone who attempts to sacrifice a Passover lamb atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is calling talk of renewed Jewish sacrifices at Judaism’s holiest site “a declaration of war.” And Hamas is urging Palestinians in their thousands to respond with a new wave of violence.
Back to the Temple Mount!
Earlier this week a religious group calling itself “Back to the Temple Mount” published a flyer stating that the time had come to renew Passover sacrifices at Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Knowing that this is a virtually impossible task that could land a person in jail, the group offered monetary incentives to anyone will to try. Any Jew arrested while ascending the Temple Mount would receive 400 shekels; anyone caught with a sacrificial lamb would get 800 shekels; and should someone succeed in actually sacrificing a lamb on the Temple Mount on Passover, that person would be rewarded with 10,000 shekels.
Declaration of war
While this group itself is small and not endorsed by any religious or political authorities, its offer quickly caught the attention of the Israeli media, and of the Palestinians.
“The threat by settlers to make sacrifices at Al Aqsa [the Temple Mount] will result in an escalation that will get out of control,” read a statement released by the office of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Another senior Palestinian official added that “making a Passover sacrifice during Ramadan [which is still ongoing] is a declaration of war, and our response will be swift.”
Hamas called the Jewish group’s campaign “a dangerous escalation that crosses all red lines, a direct assault on the belief and feelings of our people and our nation during this holy month.”
The terror group insisted that “Israel will be held responsible for the repercussions.”
Ready for war
Israel’s Channel 12 News spoke with Raphael Morris, head of “Back to the Temple Mount,” to ask what he thought of potentially sparking a new round of violent conflict.
Morris, however, was unimpressed by the Palestinian threats, noting that both Abbas and Hamas regularly latch on to perceived Israeli offenses to justify subsequent Palestinian violence.
“Every six months, Abbas or Hamas come up with some kind of crisis,” he said. “I don’t think that the solution is to surrender. Quite the opposite, in fact. When you demonstrate sovereignty and put them in place – I think that is what might prevent the next wave of terror.”
And if that doesn’t work, then perhaps war is needed to fully restore Jewish sovereignty in this land. “I’m not afraid to spark a war,” stressed Morris.
Of mountains and molehills
Israeli authorities, meanwhile, accused the Palestinians of once again making a mountain out of a molehill.
“Back to the Temple Mount” is a fringe movement that will not come anywhere close to achieving its goal of sacrificing a Passover lamb at the holy site. Indeed, it’s nearly impossible for Jews and Christians to make it up there with a Bible in hand, let alone a live sacrificial animal.
The Israel Police simply don’t allow any disruption of the status quo.
“Allegations that there are Jews intending to slaughter sacrifices on Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount] are completely false and have been promoted by Palestinian terror organizations and others in order to incite,” the Israeli government’s Arabic-language spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote on Twitter. “We will preserve the status quo in the holy places and will not allow any disturbance to security and public order in Jerusalem or anywhere else.”