Al Aqsa Mosque (bottom left)
Al Aqsa Mosque (bottom left) Nati Shohat/Flash 90

As is the way of the PA, a grain of truth is turned into a grand libel. Once a year, the PA illustrates the anatomy of a libel in all clarity when it commemorates the arson at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969.

An Australian Christian named Michael Rohan who suffered from a mental health disorder set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. That is the true part at the base of this Palestinian Arab narrative.

But the PA has used this incident as a spring board to annually repeat the libel of its false claim that Rohan was really a Jew and a Zionist, and was “acting on behalf of the Jewish religion." As official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote in August:

“General Supervisor of the Official [PA] Media Ahmad Assaf said that the fire that extremist [Michael Rohan] set on behalf of the Jewish religion 51 years ago is still burning and standing against the establishment of a just permanent peace in the Middle East and Palestine.”

Furthermore, the PA alleges that to ensure the fire successfully played its role in the wider Israeli “plot” to gain control over and destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to build “the alleged Temple,” Israel also deliberately prevented Palestinian Arabs from putting out the fire and even cut off the water supply.

But in fact it was Israeli firefighters who eventually put out the fire and not Palestinian Arab firefighters. The Israeli firefighters arrived within minutes but rioting Muslims interfered with their work and broke the only fire hydrant at the site. Watchdog Palestinian Media Watch found no evidence for claims that Israel cut off the water.

Both official PA TV and the official PA daily passed on the libelous narrative.