A top Palestinian Authority official was hounded out of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount when he visited the site on Tuesday. Azzam Al-Ahmad, as a representative of Fatah, was told in no uncertain terms by dozens of radical Muslims that he was not welcome at the mosque.
The incident indicates the strength of the sentiment among many PA Arabs against the PA and Fatah, which controls it. While the PA is clearly in charge in Ramallah, its authority is less solid in many other parts of PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria – including Jerusalem, according to Israeli analysts.
That was evidenced by the near-expulsion of Al-Ahmad from the Al-Aqsa Mosque Tuesday. Al-Ahmad is the head of the Fatah delegation in the PA parliament, and is a prominent member of the Fatah and overall PA political machinery.
That didn't matter to many of the worshippers in the mosque, who cursed Al-Ahmad and called him names, demanding that he leave. Several worshippers were poised to throw shoes at him – an act reserved only for the most hated individuals – but were stopped at the last moment by their comrades.
Fatah activists tried to blame the incident on Israel – saying that Al-Ahmad had coordinated his visit only with Israel, and not with authorities in Al-Aqsa or in Fatah. However, Al-Ahmad was visiting as part of a Jordanian delegation, and those visitors were allowed to proceed with their visit unmolested.
Israeli officials said that Al-Aqsa was a hotbed of Islamic radicalism, including the Hizab al-Tahrir group.