Storming Al-Aqsa and The Risk of Attacking Religious Sanctities

  • 16 September 2015

The recent Israeli violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque involve a very dangerous threat, not only triggering a new and potentially perilous crisis adding to an already worsening crisis in the region, but because  it touches on a religious sanctity regarded as one of the most significant sites among the Arab and Islamic worlds. The images of Israeli soldiers storming the Al Aqsa Mosque, firing toxic tear gas grenades and live bullets at worshipers in order to push them out, reflects the Israeli defiance of Arab and Muslims’ feelings. The  government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems determined on implementing its plans in Jerusalem city and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, in order to satisfy the feelings of Jewish extremists at home.

The recent Israeli attacks were risky as they emerged from a meticulous framework, with participation of the Israeli government itself represented by the Minister of Agriculture, who was involved in the storming operation which seemed to be aimed at imposing a fait accompli on Palestinians. This was realized from the recent remarks  made by Netanyahu in which he stressed that Israel will act by all means to maintain the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque, in reference to the inherited situation since June 1967 war, which allows access for Muslims who wished to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque every hour, day and night, and for Jews to  enter in certain hours, but not allowed to pray. However, what has been a cause for concern are the recent Israeli  reports being circulated about the orientation of Netanyahu’s government to implement a two phase plan for the spatial division of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The first phase requires tracking the Palestinian presence inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the arrest and targeting of scientists, preachers, and students considering them fugitives of Israeli security, while the second phase relates to defining a mandatory daily schedule that allow Jews to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing Palestinians from entering  at the same time, just as what happened in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is not a sacred symbol for the Palestinians or the Arabs only, but to Muslims all over the world, and therefore attacking or threatening it in any way, touches the nerve of the Arab and Islamic peoples and increases the chance and frequency of  riots  and heightened tensions in the region, in turn complicating the peace process between the two sides while possibly eliminating any potential opportunity to resume negotiations. This is to be expected when it involves religious beliefs and its associated sanctities; elements in which the whole world rallies and calls for its respect and defense in order to preserve coexistence between the three religions, as well as peace and stability in the region and the world, and to avoid religious conflicts which are regarded as one of the most risky type of conflicts.

The recent Israeli attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque require a serious and firm stance by the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government, in order force it to cease its plans of dividing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, therefore protecting it from all forms of potential hostility and instability, while also attempting to avoid exploiting the already volatile situation in the Middle East for the sake of implementing its old plans related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This is because this move brings closer the reality of exacerbating an already rising force of extremism and militancy in the region, who spread their culture of violence and exploit these events in promoting  their ideologies and destructive ideas among young people in the region; which in turn plays into Israel increasing the sources of tension, turmoil, and instability in the Middle East.