The Temple and Terrorism – A Dangerous Mix

Conditions are ripe, on the eve of a Temple-centred Jewish commemorative day, for an eruption of violence from Islamist terrorist groups, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad

By Stan Goodenough | | Topics: Temple Mount, Islam
Jews march to the Western Wall in celebration of Jerusalem Day. Photo: Nicky Kelvin/Flash90.

As Jews in Israel and the Diaspora prepare to mourn the destruction of their Jerusalem temples this weekend, Israel’s security forces are readying for a seemingly unrelated clash with the Muslim terrorist organisation, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

But the potential exists for a bigger, interconnected outbreak involving also the larger terror group, Hamas. Both organisations are headquartered in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli soldiers block roads near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 3, 2022. Photo: Flash 90

For the third straight day, Thursday, Israeli security forces locked down roads around Gaza as the PIJ vowed its intention to retaliate for the arrest in Jenin, Monday of the group’s “West Bank” leader.

“We have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons, and make the occupier pay a heavy price. We will not settle for attacking around Gaza, but we will bomb the centre of the so-called State of Israel,” the group said.

Meanwhile, Saturday evening will mark the start of the Rabbinical Jewish holy day of Tisha B’av (the 9th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Av). It is the annual fast day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple of Solomon by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, and of the Second Temple by Titus in AD 70.

Jews, who have been preparing for this commemoration since last Friday, will also recall numerous other historical afflictions that have been experienced by the nation of Israel.

But it is the Temple Mount – where the destroyed centrepieces of Jewish worship once stood, and which some Muslims regard as one of their holiest sites – that will mark the focus of Tisha B’Av. Fasting Jews will gather in their thousands at the Western Wall and chant their way through the Biblical book of Lamentations.

Hundreds of Jews ascend the Temple Mount on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tamuz, a fast day commemorating the destruction of the Second Temple. Jerusalem, Jul 17, 2022. Photo: Netanel Malchutya/TPS

Recent months have seen Jewish worshippers ascending the Temple Mount in ever-increasing numbers.  According to a report Thursday by the Tazpit News Service (TPS), 40,259 Jews have gone up since the current Jewish year began last September. Hailed as a new record, it was the first time in modern history “the number of Jewish visits to the holy site crossed the 40,000 marker”.

Although the Jews are exercising freedom of worship at their holiest site, and have no interest in confronting the non-Jews there, their mere presence is a red flag to intolerant Islam.

Hamas has been vying, with increasing success, to be acclaimed by the Arab street as the Defender of Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary – Islam’s name for the site) and the Champion of Al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem).

The terror group used Jewish visits to the site, among other things, as a pretext for firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians in May 2021.  Rockets were also fired at Jerusalem.

In May this year, tensions headed for boiling point as Israelis held the Jerusalem March that took them through the Old City and just blocks away from the Temple Mount. Hamas again exploited the situation to proclaim itself the Protector of Al-Aqsa – the name of the mosque on the Mount, but a term they also use to refer to the entire compound.

The group’s actions in this regard have reportedly helped it overtake the Palestinian Authority as the most popular movement in Samaria and Judea.

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