A senior Hamas official Saturday called on Palestinian Arabs to take up arms to "defend" Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, calling for a further escalation in violent Arab riots at the site in which explosives have been throw at police.
"The only solution to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to prevent Israelis from carrying out their plans there is for West Bank and Jerusalem residents to take up arms," Mahmoud Zahar said in an interview posted on the terror organization's website.
For the past several weeks amid the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, Arab terrorists have been launching a wave of terror attacks, which have included planned attacks at the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
"Until now weapons have only served to protect the settlers and the occupiers," said Zahar, whose terror group holds de facto control of Gaza. "But we should not forget the West Bank has great human resources that can be mobilized at any moment."
"The image of Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem throwing stones and Molotov cocktails has dealt a blow to the occupier," he said.
In response to the slew of attacks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's security cabinet broadened the rules under which potentially lethal rock throwing Arab terrorists can be targeted by live fire, while setting minimum sentences and authorizing larger fines for rock-throwing Arab minors and their parents.
AFP contributed to this report.