Israel has no historic or religious right or affinity to the al-Aqsa Mosque, and “Israel’s actions in that place are unilateral actions meant to strengthen Israel’s grip on Jerusalem,” Hatem Abdel Qader, the head of Jerusalem matters for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, told Breitbart Jerusalem in an interview.
According to Qader, “Israel is acting daily to change the status quo at the site. Every time there’s a different excuse and this time it’s the excuse of the attack. They decided that the entrance to the complex of mosques will pass through metal detectors. What is that if not a unilateral change in the status quo?”
Qader continued, “We won’t agree to cooperate with these actions of Israel or with these electronic metal detectors that are, as far as we’re concerned, Israel’s way of oppressing the worshippers.”
Israel’s new security measures, which also provide safety to Muslim worshippers, were put into place in direct response to the Palestinian terrorist attack last Friday in which three assailants somehow smuggled weapons onto the site and murdered two Israeli police officers guarding an entrance to the compound. Jewish and Christian visitors to the Western Wall long have had to endure metal detectors. Following Friday’s attack, Israel added metal detectors to the entrances to the Temple Mount, as well.
The Palestinian official, however, claimed that Israel is trying to deflect its security failures on to the Palestinians and the worshippers.
“We are against attacks at holy places regardless of who’s behind such attacks,” said Qader. “Israel knows that we in the Palestinian Authority or the Waqf have no connection to what happened. So, there’s no room here for collective punishment that manifests as the closure of the mosque and its opening afterward with entry conditioned on passing through the electric metal detectors. The Israelis are the ones who failed at the site on Friday.”
“There are Israeli police and soldiers at the entrance to the mosques. Why is it our responsibility that they failed to prevent the attack?” Qader continued. “Why do the worshippers need to take responsibility and be punished because Israeli security personnel failed and slipped up? Why do Waqf personnel need to be held responsible for an Israeli failure? The Israelis failed and we are the one who have to pay the price.”
Qader said that the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the Temple Mount, and Palestinian Authority officials are monitoring contacts between Israel and Jordan. “The Palestinian Authority has no official link to the complex. Jordan is the one representing the Palestinians. And so, if the contacts between Israel and Jordan about ending the collective punishment don’t succeed, and if Israel persists with these electric metal detectors, we will ask the Palestinian youth to step up their protests against them.”
“We will come en masse to put pressure on these detectors and we will pray outside the mosque and in the streets to prove that Israel isn’t respecting freedom of worship and faith,” Qader promised.
“Israelis have no right to the al-Aqsa Mosque. This is the Palestinian position. The mosque is an Islamic mosque where prayer is only allowed to Muslims,” said Qader. “Israelis have no historic or religious right to the site and they need to quit using the claim of the Temple. We are ready to allow Jews to enter and visit the mosques like any other tourist so they can come and be impressed by Islamic heritage, but under no means will they compete with us for prayer and religious sovereignty at the site.”
“Israel understands it has no ties to the place, but a process has begun since Oslo of politicizing the site, which isn’t really connected to the place, but to the struggle for Jerusalem. One thing is for sure, Israel has no connection to the place.”
Qader’s denial of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount are mainstream within Palestinian society.
Earlier this week, Maher al-Sousi, a lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza, claimed that the Jewish Temples were never located on the Temple Mount and that Jews have no right to the holiest site in Judaism.
In a Breitbart Jerusalem interview last year, Khaled Elkhaldi, a professor at Gaza’s Islamic University, completely denied Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
In 2007, Breitbart’s Aaron Klein conducted an exclusive video interview with Waqf official and chief Palestinian cleric Taysir Tamimi, who used the occasion to claim the Jewish Temples “never existed” and the Western Wall was really a hitching post for Muhammad’s horse.
Excavations near the Mount routinely uncover archaeological evidence further tying Jews to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. For example, discoveries at the City of David, an archeological site just outside the Mount, have unearthed the core of ancient Jerusalem, including Hezekiah’s Tunnel, evidence of the Gihon Spring, Jewish Temple artifacts, Temple purifying pools and more.
Not only are these Muslim scholars’ claims about the lack of evidence tying Jews to the Temple Mount false, the Islamic scholar glossed over the Palestinians’ own complicity in disposing of Jewish Temple artifacts.
As Klein previously reported:
In 1997, the Waqf conducted a large dig on the Temple Mount during construction of a massive mosque at an area referred to as Solomon’s Stables. The Wafq at the time disposed of truckloads of dirt containing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods.
After the media reported the disposals, Israeli authorities froze the construction permit given to the Waqf and the dirt was transferred to Israeli archaeologists for analysis. The Israeli authorities found scores of Jewish Temple relics in the nearly disposed dirt, including coins with Hebrew writing referencing the Temple, part of a Hasmonean lamp, several other Second Temple lamps, Temple-period pottery with Jewish markings, a marble pillar shaft, and other Temple-period artifacts.
The Waqf was widely accused of attempting to hide evidence of the existence of the Jewish Temples.
And in 2007, Klein personally reported from the site of an unusual dig on the Temple Mount in which the Waqf utilized heavy machinery to dig in one of the most sensitive archaeological compounds in the world and were once again caught red-handed destroying Temple-era antiquities.
This article was written with additional reporting by Aaron Klein.