TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah party on Saturday called for a campaign “to take control of the Al-Aqsa mosque.”
In a statement, the party said the “campaign for Jerusalem has effectively begun, and will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation.”
Fatah praised Palestinian rioters who took to the streets of Jerusalem over the past week to protest the installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount compound following a deadly terror attack at the holy site. Three Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli police.
Fatah called for three days of mourning and a general strike for the dead rioters and added that they were engaging in “initifada (armed struggle) against the enemy.”
“Their acts were for the protection of Al-Aqsa and their struggle against the Israeli plans, while sacrificing souls and blood,” the faction said.
Two days earlier, a senior Fatah official in charge of Jerusalem affairs said Israel’s “violence will be met with violence.”
“We are moving towards an escalation. The Israelis are moving towards an escalation, and we have no problem on our part that there will also be an escalation from the Palestinian side,” Hatem Abd Al-Qader said. “Escalation is answered with escalation, and violence is answered with violence. Those who begin are the guilty ones, and Israel bears the responsibility.”
The security measures at the Temple Mount came in response to a deadly terror attack on July 14 in which two Druze-Israeli police officers were shot and killed at the holy site. Nevertheless, Abbas claimed the installation of metal detectors was “falsely presented as a security measure” while in reality Israel wished “to take control of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
“The steps taken by Israel are leading to a religious confrontation and an evasion from a diplomatic process,” Abbas was also quoted as saying.
“They don’t have a right to place the [metal detectors] at the gates to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, because sovereignty over the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is our right. … So we took a decisive and firm stance, especially with regard to security coordination and all kinds of coordination between us and them,” Abbas said Sunday, according to the Wafa official PA news site.
Abbas, who has given no response to the attack thus far, said on Sunday that he was suspending all security coordination with Israel. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded by saying that Israel doesn’t need Palestinian cooperation on matters of security.
Fatah added that Israel’s security changes were part of a “racist” ploy to “Jewify and take over Al-Aqsa.”
Violent riots have erupted every day since the new security measures were put in place, with Molotov cocktails being thrown at Israeli security forces and simultaneous chants of “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”
“Remember Khaybar, you Jews, the army of Muhammad is returning,” was a threat heard chanted in unison by the rioters, in reference to a seventh century Muslim massacre of Jews.
On Friday night, three members of the Salomon family from the West Bank settlement of Halamish were stabbed to death at their Sabbath table by a Palestinian terrorist who said he was avenging Israel’s actions on the Temple Mount.