Illustration: Hamas recruits celebrate their
Illustration: Hamas recruits celebrate theirFlash 90

A senior Hamas politician has joined the call for an “intifada” terror war against Israel over Jews’ visits to the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is Judaism’s holiest site. It is also the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Muslim and Arab leaders have accused Israel of intending to destroy the mosque and rebuild the Jewish Temple, though Jewish activists say they are merely campaigning for equal prayer rights at their holiest site.

Gaza Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Radwan accused Israel of “raiding the holy Aqsa Mosque” and called for a holy war, Hamas’ Al-Qassam website reports.

Each “raid” on the mosque brings a third “intifada” terror war closer, he warned, using the term commonly used by extremist groups to describe Jewish visits to the Mount. Any attack on the mosque is an attack on “the Islamic nation and its dignity,” he declared.

The Hamas site clarified that Radwan was referring to an incident in which Israelis “broke into the Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday morning and toured its various courtyards.” The claim that Jewish visitors "broke into" the mosque could not be verified. Jewish groups as a rule do not visit the mosque, and Muslim leaders opposed to Jews visiting any part of the Mount have often justified their calls for a ban on Jews by fabricating such events in the past.

Israeli Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount are usually accompanied by police due to fears of Muslim violence against them. Police have arrested some Muslim worshipers for throwing stones at Jews, and earlier this year nabbed a Muslim gang that carried out firebomb attacks at the holy site.

Jews who visit the Temple Mount are not allowed to pray at the holy site. In the past, visitors have been arrested for violating this prohibition.

Visiting hours for Jews are limited, and Jews are not allowed to approach the Al Aqsa Mosque or Dome of the Rock, but must remain in select parts of the courtyard area.

Radwan’s call to violence over Jewish visits to the site follows a similar declaration from the heads of Fatah’s armed branch, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. The Fatah group declared in September that it would be giving a “green light” to terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians.