JERUSALEM – A plan to bring 10,000 Jews to the Temple Mount next month will be disrupted and may result in violence, a senior member of an Islamic group allegedly connected to Hamas told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview here yesterday.
“Jews have no right whatsoever to the Aqsa Mosque compounds and platform according to our Islamic teachings, creed, history and heritage. Our group is not responsible for what is going to happen [if the scheduled mass visit of Jews to the Mount takes place],” said Dr. Hasan Sanallah, a member of the Islamic Movement, a group involved with Temple Mount activism that Israel has accused of urging its members to join Hamas.
Sanallah was referring to a plan by Revava, a Jewish organization with the stated mission of ”restoring self-esteem to the state of Israel by restoring national pride and values,” to bring 10,000 Jews to the heavily restricted Temple Mount April 10 to spark Israeli dialogue about reclaiming the holy site from its Islamic custodians.
A senior Jerusalem police official told WND exclusively yesterday Israel has received intelligence the Islamic Movement has activated a cell in northern Israel to draw plans to foil the Revava visit.
The official said the Movement, which stresses Arab sovereignty over the Temple Mount, has instructed its followers to sleep in mosques starting April 8 to prevent Jews from ascending the Mount.
Confirming the report, Sanallah said, “Yes, we called upon our followers to show up in the Aqsa Mosque not for sleeping but to protect it from any kind of aggression that might be planned.”
He accused “fanatic settlers and Jewish religious groups who do not believe in peace” of planning to use the Revava visit to “hinder the pullout from the Gaza Strip by agitating a wave of violence once again after a relative calm.”
David Ha’ivri, Revava director, told WND his visit is “peaceful.”
Said Ha’ivri: “We want to change the talk and drive home to the government that they need to reopen the area and allow Jews to pray there. … Hopefully the trip will spark more Jews to come on a daily basis.”
A police official said Israel is also concerned the Jewish visit will prompt a major confrontation with the Palestinians, and said police are worried “Jewish extremists” will use the visit to carry out an attack on the Temple Mount in hopes of disrupting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw Jewish settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank this summer.
“This visit cannot happen. It will cause violence on the Temple Mount and will result in a deterioration of the security situation in Israel,” the official said. “It is just an excuse by Jewish extremists to start a conflict and try to stop [the Gaza withdrawal].”
Shmulik Ben Ruby, a police spokesman, said the current government restrictions of allowing only small groups of about 30 to 50 non-Muslims to ascend the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews, will apply on the day of the scheduled gathering.
”We will not let so many Jews up at once. This is not the usual habits on the Temple Mount,” Ben Ruby said. “We have to ensure that every Jewish group is going up in safety and will go up quietly.”
One official said Palestinians have plastered mosques throughout the Temple Mount area with signs warning of the mass Jewish ascent, a story first reported by WND. The signs read, ”The Jews, who have no historic claim to the [Temple Mount], are planning to storm our holy site on April 10. We must not allow this to happen.”
The signs, which have been repeatedly removed, do not detail what specific measures Palestinians should take against the Jewish event.
Sanallah says he is not calling for violence: “Anyone who makes disorder will have to bear responsibility.”
The Islamic Movement has been accused by Israel of urging its members to join Hamas and was blamed for participation in several terror attacks, including a car bombing in September 1999. Many Movement members allegedly recruited by Hamas in the West Bank have been arrested in recent years.
The Movement recently split into two splinter groups. The southern faction, headed by Sheikh Abdullah Darwish, says it is involved only with political activities and has had several members elected to Israel’s Knesset. The Movement’s northern faction, the group allegedly planning a response to Revava, is led by Sheikh Raed Salah, who is now in Israeli custody after being accused by Israel of involvement in terrorism and barred from traveling abroad.
Salah had been campaigning for Islamic control of holy sites in Israel and was involved in the Muslim takeover of Solomon’s Stables, a large area below the Al Aqsa Mosque that recently was excavated and built into a new mosque.
Ha’ivri said he is not concerned by Islamic Movement threats.
”The Palestinians just need to come to terms with the fact that we live in a Jewish state, and Jews have a right to pray on the Temple Mount unimpeded,” Ha’ivri said.
But Sanallah told WND the Jews have no historic claim to the Temple Mount.
“Jews have to rethink again and again where the Temple Mount is located,” he said. “They have to give account for the numerous contradictions over the site location in their books. Therefore, regarding sovereignty, Jews have no right over the Aqsa Mosque.”
Ha’ivri responded, “Muslim leaders would do themselves a service by not mixing fantasy with ideas of trying to switch history. The location of the Temple Mount, built by King Solomon, has never been questioned by any historic or archeological authority.”
The Temple Mount, the area directly behind the Western Wall in Jerusalem, was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshipers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.
Following the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.
The Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003. It still is open but only Sundays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered ”sensitive” by the Waqf, the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount.
During ”open” days, Jews and Christian are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any ”holy objects” to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.
The tour guide, Nachman Kupietsky, an Orthodox Jew who covers his head with a baseball cap while in the area and not his usual yarmulke, for fear of being arrested, said, “These rules are very serious. They were made by the Waqf and agreed to by the Sharon government, which is not very religious and just doesn’t want any more clashes on the Temple Mount.”
Kupietsky told WND of instances in the past few months in which members of his tour group were arrested for breaking various rules.
He said a Jewish woman was detained last summer for putting her head down while sitting on a bench.
“It was a hot day and she just wanted to rest for a few minutes. The Wafq started screaming and the police arrested her. She told me she was held for six hours and had to sign documents stating she would never again return to the Temple Mount.
“You also can’t bring anything with Hebrew letters, even secular Hebrew books. The Wafq confiscated many of my tour books. One time I brought a guy who pulled out the Hebrew edition of the [Jerusalem] Post, and they took that from him.”
Kupietsky said Orthodox guests who decide to wear yarmulkes are routinely delayed by Israeli police at the entrance to the Temple Mount for up to 30 minutes while they are interrogated about the purpose of their visit.
Asked about the planned Revava visit last week, Ben Ruby told WND although Jews are barred from the Mount in large groups, the Israeli police would allow thousands of Muslims to ascend.
”We would and we do allow 10,000 Palestinians to go up,” he said. “They are going up there to pray in their mosques.”
He recognized Jews cannot pray on the Mount: ”Yes, those are the restrictions.”