JERUSALEM — The Temple Mount, one of the most sensitive sites in the world, has been utilized by Arab states and Muslim leaders over the past few days to spew wild accusations against Israel following events triggered by last Friday’s deadly Palestinian terrorist attack at the site.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is considered holy to Islam.
Below, in no particular order, are four major lies about the Temple Mount being propagated by Arab states and Muslim leaders:
1 – Metal detectors are part of an Israeli conspiracy against the Al Aqsa Mosque.
For four consecutive days, Muslim rioters here have engaged in violent clashes targeting Israeli security forces in Jerusalem’s Old City near a main entrance to the Temple Mount. The Muslim worshipers are purportedly protesting the Israeli government’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrances to the Mount.
Protest leaders, including top Palestinian officials, claim the metal detectors are part of an Israeli conspiracy to hamper Muslim worship at the Temple Mount.
The activists and Palestinian officials fail to note that Israel’s new security measures were put into place in direct response to the murderous Palestinian terrorist attack at the Mount last Friday in which three assailants somehow smuggled weapons onto the site. Two Israeli police officers were killed in the attack.
The placement of metal detectors constitutes a sensible security response to a terrorist attack at the Mount, and it will protect all visitors, including Muslim worshipers. The conspiracy-mongering activists ignore that metal detectors have been in place for years for Jewish and Christian worshipers accessing the Western Wall.
The Palestinians have a history of using the Temple Mount to fuel violence against Israel. Riots broke out on the Mount in October 1990, ushering in the First Intifada, and the Second Intifada kicked off in September 2000 after the Palestinians used a visit to the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon as a pretense to launch an orchestrated terrorist campaign after bolting U.S.-brokered talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state.
2 – Israel is trying to shut down Muslim worship at the Temple Mount.
This distorted charge has been propagated by Arab states and Mideast Muslim leaders after Israel temporarily closed the Temple Mount last Friday in direct response to the attack. The Mount was reopened on Sunday following the rare closure.
As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, in their condemnations of Israel for temporarily closing the Temple Mount, major Arab states and local Muslim leaders failed to mention the deadly Palestinian terrorist attack at the Mount that prompted Israel to enforce the closure for national security reasons in the first place.
Mount preachers are notorious for using Friday night sermons to incite against Israel – especially with false claims of Israeli threats to the Al Aqsa Mosque – and there was fear that the services could have been used to instigate further violence on the Mount.
Also, Israel temporarily closed the Mount while it investigated how the three gunmen managed to smuggle weapons onto the site, and while the Jewish state put additional security layers – notably, the metal detectors – in place to ensure against future attacks.
Accompanied by the Waqf, the site’s Islamic custodians, Israel also used the few days the site was closed to conduct necessary security sweeps of the Mount. According to reports, dozens of additional weapons were found at the site.
The charge that Israel is hampering Muslim access to the Temple Mount is laughable and contradicted by facts on the ground. Israel allows the Jordanian-controlled Waqf to serve as custodian of the Temple Mount and grants Muslim worshippers access to the site 24 hours per day, seven days a week with the exception of rare instances of security threats.
It is actually Jewish and Christian visitors who are restricted by the Waqf from visiting the Mount except on small tours for about two hours per day. The Waqf does not allow non-Muslims to pray on the Mount or bring holy objects to the site; whereas Muslim prayer is entirely unrestricted. Waqf representatives closely monitor non-Muslim visitors to the site and are known to boot those engaging in prayer.
3 and 4 – The Temple Mount is only holy to Muslims and the Jewish Temples never existed.
The shocking denial of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount are mainstream within Palestinian society.
Rejecting archeological evidence, the historical record and accepted fact, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview earlier this week that the Temple Mount is “a holy place for Muslims only, and no one but the Muslims have any religious or historical right there.”
Also 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, this reporter 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 further solidifying Jewish ties to the site.
As I 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, I 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.
Local Arabs did not always deny the reality of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. A 1925 official guide book to the Temple Mount by the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem stated the Mount was the site of Solomon’s Temple. The book, titled, “Guide Book to Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” states on page four, “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord.’”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.