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Israel Must Let Hamas Know That Nothing On Earth Would Lead Them to Ban Jews From the Temple Mount

A commentary by Nadav Shragai on the Muslim demand that Jews be barred from the Temple Mount altogether is here.

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…We need to hope that no one in any of the Zionist political parties, defense establishment, or Israel Police is even remotely entertaining this impertinent demand. The ability to visit the Temple Mount is all the Jews have left after former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan decided in 1967 to prohibit Jewish prayer at the site.

Israeli governments throughout the years have since adhered to this “status quo,” even though the Muslims have violated the “sacred status quo” on the Temple Mount on numerous occasions since Dayan’s decree. They built two additional mosques at the site. They also turned the Gate of Mercy area into a place of worship, destroyed and desecrated Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount, and greatly expanded Jordan’s influence at the site, to the point that it became an equal partner with Israel in the site’s management. They have also established a foothold in the “Mount’s environs” and occasionally influence or veto changes at the Temple Mount’s walls (eastern, southern and the western).

The Palestinians have violated the understanding that there would be no changes in the status quo on the Temple Mount by building two new mosques; the Jews, of course, have not built, as some Jews might have wished, a synagogue.

In recent years, Jews have been murdered and wounded by terrorists with ties to Hamas, which desired these attacks to “block” or “disrupt” Jews from visiting the Temple Mount or to “harm them.” Such was the case with Masabah Abu Sabih, who on October 9, 2016, opened fire on commuters at the Ammunition Hill light rail station, murdering Levana Malihi, 60, and police officer Yossi Kirma. Such was also the case with Mohammed Nasser Tra’ayra, 19, who in 2016 murdered 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba. As was the case of the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed and wounded an Israeli in November 2015 outside a supermarket at the Sha’ar Binyamin Industrial Zone, who wrote that he “devoted himself to protecting the al-Aqsa mosque.” And this was the case with Baha Elian and Balal Abu Gaanam, the two terrorists who shot and murdered three Jews on a bus in Jerusalem in October 2015. They and many more like them linked their atrocities to the al-Aqsa mosque.

Each of these hundreds of attacks in recent years “for the sake of al-Aqsa” and to “block the Jews” from going there have not helped Hamas, which is now trying to write a new equation: quiet in the south in exchange for a Temple Mount cleansed of JewsWe must understand and internalize this. Israel must respond with a resounding and public “no,” if nothing else than to rehabilitate its deterrence with Hamas.

Israel must let Hamas know – as Nadav Shragai says – that there is nothing on earth that would lead the Jewish state to ban Jews from visiting the holiest site in Judaism. Israel has already done far more than the Palestinians and other Arabs had any right to expect, in forbidding Jews visiting the Temple Mount to pray, or even to mouth silent prayers. And if Hamas keeps up the rocket fire from Gaza that it recently increased, firing 36 rockets into southern Israel over a single night, the warnings by Prime Minister Netanyahu should become reality. Hamas claims its current attacks are a response to the situation in Jerusalem, where Arabs have been attacking Jews, and Jews have been fighting back, while the Israeli police are trying to maintain the peace. That’s merely an excuse. Hamas also says there will be more attacks if the Palestinian elections are cancelled – managing to blame Israel for Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to avoid a humiliating electoral defeat. Again, an excuse. For Hamas, there is always a ready excuse for its rocket fire into Israel.

Israel has now imposed the complete closure of the Gaza fishing zone, in response to continuing rocket fire from Hamas in the Strip. And it has hit some Hamas rocket launchers and an underground facility, a most limited retaliation, apparently in the hope that Hamas will respond by de-escalating its own violence. This Israeli response is inadequate, as Hamas continues to fire rockets, albeit at a reduced rate, into populated parts of southern Israel. Now is the time for Israel to engage fully in this effort to silence that rocket fire. The IAF should be hitting not a handful of Hamas sites, as it did after the 36 rockets were launched by Hamas in a single night recently, but dozens every night, and continuing its bombing campaign on Hamas sites without letup for several weeks, a deliberately “disproportionate” response that will continue until Hamas again learns the lesson it was taught twice before, in Operation Cast Lead (2008) and Operation Protective Edge (2014), but clearly has forgotten. Only when rockets are no longer being launched from Gaza should Israel stop its bombing campaign. Hamas will go quiet for a while until it again forgets – in a few months or a few years — what damage Israel can inflict. And there will be no more absurd talk from a chastened Hamas, licking its wounds, about preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount.

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