JERUSALEM – Israeli police said they are “investigating” WND reports Hamas has been exclusively broadcasting Muslim prayers from the Temple Mount, but police officials would not say if they would stop the terror group’s daily broadcasts from Judaism’s holiest site.
“We are aware of the situation now and we are investigating who might be responsible,” said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby.
Ben Ruby would not indicate whether or not the police would act to halt the Hamas programming.
Police here are responsible for security on the Mount and theoretically must approve broadcasts from the site.
WND broke the story that Hamas Wednesday exclusively broadcast Muslim prayers from the Mount’s Al Aqsa Mosque on the group’s official radio station, Al Aqsa Radio. The services are broadcast alongside anti-Semitic commentary, including incitement against Jews.
The official Hamas radio network announced last week it would continue airing exclusive daily streams of Muslim morning services from the Temple Mount, and, indeed, the broadcasts continued yesterday as scheduled. Hamas radio is heard throughout Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Spokesmen for both the Jerusalem Police and Israel’s National Police said their respective departments were not aware of Hamas’ planned broadcast until the publication of WND’s original story on the topic last Monday.
Security sources said the police know which officials and individuals have been facilitating the Hamas broadcasts, which are fully coordinated with the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the Temple Mount.
Hamas for the sixth consecutive day broadcast yesterday’s morning services from the Mount’s Al Aqsa Mosque from 5:05 a.m. Jerusalem time until 5:50 a.m.
“Our broadcast is a victory for the Al Aqsa Mosque, which is suffering from Judaization efforts imposed by the Zionist government. Broadcasting daily radio is a way to bring Al Aqsa to the Gaza Strip and challenge the siege imposed on us by the Zionist entity,” said Rami Kaoud, a manager at Al Aqsa Radio.
All broadcasts from the Mount must be approved by the Waqf, which guard the Muslim entrances to the Temple Mount along with the Israeli police. Broadcasts in theory must also be approved by the Israeli police, but cameramen and reporters routinely enter the site from Muslim gates to broadcast without prior police approval as long as Waqf agents allow the entry.
While Israel again has not yet acted to halt Hamas broadcasts, for most of last week it barred all non-Muslims from ascending the Mount, even on a Jewish holiday held last Wednesday.
Last Wednesday marked the start of Muslim holiday of Ein ul-Adhaa, which commemorates the Islamic belief of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael for Allah. According to Jewish and Christian tradition, Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac, not Ishmael.
Also on Wednesday, Jews commemorated the Jewish fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, mourning the First Temple’s destruction and the siege placed on Jerusalem leading up to Temple’s destruction during the reign of the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar.
Jewish organizations and Temple Mount activist groups here were planning visits to the Temple Mount in observance of last Wednesday’s Jewish day of mourning. Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the international department at Israel’s Temple Institute, a Mount activist group which planned to lead a tour of the site this week, said Israeli police informed his group earlier this week that they had decided the Mount would be closed the rest of the week to non-Muslims for fear of offending Muslims on the Islamic holiday.
Due to Israeli restrictions, the Temple Mount is open only to non-Muslims 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 Mount’s Islamic custodians.
Temple Mount: No prayer zone
The First Jewish Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in A.D. 70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries.
The Jewish Temple was the center of religious Jewish worship. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God’s “presence” dwelt. The Al Aqsa Mosque now sits on the site.
The Temple served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place in Israel during Jewish holidays.
The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact.
The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed around A.D. 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark where Muslims came to believe Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven.
Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from “a sacred mosque” – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to “the farthest mosque” and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount 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 but only on select days for certain hours.
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.
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