As violence erupted in Jerusalem over stepped up security measures there, Westerners all too willing to support Palestinians regardless of their actions contrary to maintaining peace were given another opportunity to see why such support is misplaced. It is misplaced, that is, if one truly seeks peace in the region.
Whenever violent disputes arise, several critical steps occur. First, obviously, is determining what triggered the incident; second is implementing measures to prevent re-occurrence; and third is holding accountable those responsible for triggering the violence.
The most recent violence in Jerusalem occurred while Muslims, Jews and foreign tourists visited the al-Aqsa Mosque at the Temple Mount compound. Because the site holds great historical significance to three Abrahamic religions, it has long provided a flashpoint for violence.
To protect all visitors, Israeli police provide security. On Friday, July 14, three Israeli-Arab citizens emerged from the mosque, armed with a machine gun and knives. They attacked and killed two police officers before they themselves were killed.
An immediate investigation revealed the attackers had smuggled the weapons into the compound and quietly entered the mosque since visitors were not searched at entry points.
Accordingly, making the compound safe for all future visitors demanded Israeli authorities immediately undertake step 2 – implement measures to prevent such attacks from re-occurring. For the first time since 1969, the mosque was closed down for two days as security measures, involving the installation of metal detectors and additional camera surveillance, were affected.
However, when the mosque was re-opened, Palestinians refused to enter the compound with the new security measures in place – measures they viewed as an exercise in control over them, despite the fact all visitors must undergo the process. Palestinians opted to remain outside the entry gates to pray and protest.
Rather than work with the Israelis to contain possible violence by explaining to their people the reason for the temporary closure and implementation of additional security measures, the Palestinian National Authority (PA) fanned the flames of protest by criticizing Israeli actions. Doing so gave imams additional fuel to incite protests – and retribution against innocent Israelis.
A week after the mosque attack, thousands of Palestinians were demonstrating. Tensions mounted around the city. Violence erupted, and four Palestinians were shot dead.
One young Palestinian man, Omar al-Abed, 19, acting on the imams’ mandate for violence, entered the Israeli village of Neve Tsuf on the evening of July 22. Looking for a target of opportunity, he observed lights and ongoing festivities at a home. There, the Saloman family was celebrating the birth of their child. Their dinner was interrupted by a knock on the door. Upon answering it, Abed rushed in, armed with a knife. Stabbing away wildly at family members, he killed three as others managed to escape to a safe room.
Before leaving his home to launch the attack, Abed had made his intentions known on his Facebook page. He had written, “I know that with Allah my dreams will come true,” adding, “I will go to heaven.”
Other attacks by Palestinians on Israeli civilians have followed.
Concerning this latest violence, which with PA assistance was avoidable, pro-Palestinian supporters need do some serious reflection. They might wish to ponder the following:
- Unsurprisingly, despite the Temple Mount attack, the PA focuses the spotlight on Palestinian discontent with the mosque closure and new security measures as the reason for violence.
- There was nothing unreasonable about Israel’s actions in temporarily closing the mosque long enough to implement security measures aimed at preventing future attacks for all visitors to undergo.
- Why do Israelis need “safe rooms” while in Palestinian homes such rooms are virtually unheard of? The former exist to avoid attackers; where the latter exist, they are to avoid arrest for having conducted an attack.
- PA President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to terminate security cooperation with Israel unless the metal detectors were removed. But why would anyone oppose increased security measures seeking to protect all visitors – unless those opposed recognized it is not their security at risk?
- While Palestinians complain access to the mosque was denied, it was only for two days after the attack – which pales in comparison to access denied Israelis, for the first time in Jewish history, for almost two decades from 1948 to 1967.
- After the 1967 Six Day war and Israel’s victory, it magnanimously allowed control over what is considered Judaism’s holiest site to continue under the authority of a Jordanian Waqf – an Islamic religious trust. While the waqf is Jordanian, it falls under the control of the grand muftiship of Jerusalem, which is under PA control. Thus, it was an almost inconceivable act of goodwill by Israel to agree to this arrangement for which there is yet to be reciprocation by the PA.
- While Abbas has condemned the Temple Mount attack, the PA will reward the Palestinian attacker’s family. The PA’s “Pay-for-Slay Program” will probably earn Abed’s family a monthly stipend of $3,200, most likely funded by Western donations – not bad as the average Palestinian’s monthly income is about $1,800. Undoubtedly very happy with this pay-off, Abed’s mother has praised her son’s attack.
- Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour refused to condemn Abed’s act of butchery, informing reporters, “Do not expect all Palestinians to be angels.” Mansour apparently lacked sufficient compassion even to condemn the actions of one who was not an “angel.”
To reduce tensions, the U.S. proposed Israel replace the metal detectors with hand-held scanners. Monday night, the detectors were removed and an improved camera system, rather than scanners, installed.
Even this concession is proving insufficient as Palestinians now demand removal of all post-July14 security improvements. They seek a return to the pre-July 14 status quo – one making a future Temple Mount attack highly likely.
There should be no doubt, however, as between the Palestinians and the Israelis, who seeks peace and who does not.