Mahmoud al-Zahar (BBC)
JERUSALEM – Hamas cannot rule out the initiation of a third intifada, or “uprising,” Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND in an exclusive interview today.
Zahar spoke as clashes called for by Hamas were started by Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, purportedly in protest of Israel’s rededication of an ancient synagogue in the city one day earlier.
Jerusalem Police Commissioner David Cohen said today he did not believe the Hamas-directed violence would spark a third intifada.
Zahar, however, told WND, “If you are going to read what is the meaning of the intifada in the political books, one of the characters is that nobody can expect how it could start or continue, so everybody now is upset about what happened yesterday.”
“This is how the first intifada started,” he said, speaking by cell phone from Gaza. “People demonstrated in Jerusalem and it escalated. Nobody will know what happened, but I can image that everyone inside and outside Palestine is deeply frustrated in the Israeli building nearby al-Aqsa Mosque at this particular time.”
Israel yesterday rededicated an ancient synagogue in the main Jewish quarter of the Old City yesterday. The structure had been badly damaged by Jordanian forces when they overran the Jewish Quarter in the 1948 Middle East war.
The Hurva synagogue is located hundreds of feet from the Western Wall and is in no way connected to the Temple Mount. Israel did not conduct heavy construction on the synagogue, a structure that had been in the Jewish quarter since the 2nd century.
Still, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are claiming that Israel’s rededication ceremony is a threat to al-Aqsa Mosque. Hamas called for a “day of rage,” prompting Palestinians throughout eastern Jerusalem today to hurl stones at police.
Israeli security forces responded with tear gas and fired rubber bullets, according to witnesses. Thirty-one Arabs were arrested in violent protests in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Isawiyah, Abu Dis and Wadi Joz.
Obama to blame for Palestinian violence?
Some analysts here are blaming the Obama administration for emboldening the PA and Hamas. The U.S. has come down hard on a decision by the Jerusalem municipality to approve 1,600 new homes in an already-existing Jewish community in eastern Jerusalem.
“Palestinians see the Obama administration’s decision to attack Israel as an invitation to adopt a more confrontational line,” wrote Haaretz reporters Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel.
The two reporters continued: “The PA has smelled blood. It understands that the international community will not concern itself with secondary details, such as the fact that the synagogue in question would no doubt remain in Israeli territory under even the most generous future peace agreement. So why not start a riot and blame the Israelis, especially when the U.S. government is doing the same.”