Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday urged the Muslim and Arab world to rush to the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, accusing “the Zionist interlopers,” as he put it, of planning to destroy it.
In what Israeli officials were calling a serious case of incitement by Abbas against Israel and the Jewish people, Abbas complained about how Israel was conducting archaeological digs under and around the Temple Mount. The digs, he said, were likely to topple the Mosque.
Abbas also demanded that Arab nations do something to protect the Temple Mount from ongoing “invasions” by Jews, who were too often being permitted to ascend the Temple Mount in his opinion. Many religious Jews have been attempting to visit the Mount in recent years, despite being banned from praying at the site, which is the holiest in Judaism but is currently controlled by the Islamic Waqf trust.
The Mosque “must stand at the head of efforts to preserve the Arab identity and the religious status of Jerusalem,”Abbas said in a speech that was broadcast on Arab satellite television. The speech was a preview of what can be expected at the annual Islamic conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, about “threats” to the Mosque.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Jews who attempted to ascend the Temple Mount were shocked to discover that they were barred entry onto the holy site. The ban came after Muslim groups demanded that Jews stay off the site, and despite a promise by police that Jews would be allowed to enter it. Jews attempting to enter the site on Wednesday morning witnessed dozens of armed Arabs who were apparently waiting for the gates to open. Police did not intervene to remove the group which appeared to be preparing for a riot, but instead kept Jews off the site. Activists said that this was at least the fifth festival in row in which Jews were banned from the Mount.
Abbas has made numerous comments and speeches inciting Arab masses against Israel and Jews, as have many of the officials in his government. Israel last October filed a complaint with the United Nations in the wake of a condolence letter sent by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the family of a terrorist who was responsible for a 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing attack. The terrorist, Mohammed Assi, was eliminated by IDF soldiers after holing up in a cave near Dolev, in the western Binyamin region.
“Terrorism does not begin with an attack on a bus or a café. That is how terrorism ends. Terrorism begins when its perpetrators are indoctrinated with words and thoughts of hate,” said Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, in the letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.