Jews may blow up Al Aqsa
- Radicals may blow up Temple Mount mosques:
Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi warned Saturday that Jewish
extremists may try to carry out an attack against Arabs on
Jerusalem's Temple Mount in order to torpedo Israel's planned
unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Jul. 24, 2004
Police weigh Temple Mount restrictions
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
Tourists visit the Temple Mount
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
A day after Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi warned that
Jewish extremists could be planning an attack against Arabs on the
Temple Mount, Jerusalem Police and Islamic Wakf officials on Sunday
increased security checks at the site, and police considered whether
to restrict an Israeli fringe group from entering it this Tuesday.
Jerusalem Police will announce Monday whether they favor imposing any
restrictions on Jewish entry to the Judaism's holiest site on Tuesday
as the nation marks Tisha Be'av, which commemorates the destruction
of the two ancient Jewish Temples.
Police will present their decision during a Supreme Court hearing on
an appeal by members of the Temple Mount Faithful organization, who
want to visit the site on Tuesday.
Despite the reopening of the Temple Mount to non-Muslims 11 months
ago, the ultra-nationalist group has been repeatedly barred by police
from entering the holy site in the wake of last-minute security
considerations made by the police commander on site, group leader
Gershon Solomon said Sunday.
Meanwhile, the uproar continued in Israel over warnings made by
Hanegbi Saturday night that Jewish extremists could be planning an
attack in the Temple Mount to torpedo Israel's planned unilateral
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
"We sense that the threat level on the Temple Mount by extremist and
fanatic Jewish elements, in order to upset the situation and be a a
catalyst for change of the political process, has increased in the
last few months, and especially in the last few weeks, more than any
time in the past," Hanegbi said on Channel 2's Meet the Press.
Hanegbi added that while there was no intelligence information
pointing to specific suspects who are planning an attack, there
were "worrying indications" that such plans were "not just
theoretical." His warnings spurred a wave of public reactions as
former security officials, retired police chiefs, and politicians
took to the airwaves to denounce and condemn any such plan.
Carmi Gillon, a former chief of the Shin Bet secret service, warned
on Israel Radio Sunday that such an attack could ignite widespread
hostilities that could threaten Israel's very existence.
"If we're talking about a clear and present danger to the existence
of Israel, it's a [Jewish] attack on the Temple Mount. If there were
to be an attack on the Temple Mount, the chances that the Muslim
world will rise up and fall on us, and millions of Iranians will
march to Jerusalem, are very, very high. There are limits to this
game," Gillon said.
"In a diplomatic context, one thing is certain, if God forbid one
stone were to fall from the top of the Dome of the Rock, any and all
peace process, any and all chances for a solution to this conflict
will evaporate completely. The other side will never stand for it. I
hope that the Shabak and the police are making maximum efforts to
obtain all the information they need to thwart something catastrophic
like this," Gillon said.
"I think we need to understand that the Temple Mount needs to remain
outside this game," he added.
"The security forces need to be given all the tools, including
administrative detentions, whatever is required even a remote
possibility of something like this happening."
Former Jerusalem police chief Arye Amit said the "long-running
desire" of extremist Jews to carry out an attack on the Temple Mount
has reemerged, with the mixture of religious fanaticism of those who
want to build a Third Temple at the site combining with the political
fervor of those on the far Right who are ready to stop at nothing to
prevent a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
"The danger is from that lone, extremist crazy who is unknown to the
police and the Shin Bet and not from the well-known extremist
figures," Amit said on Israel Radio.
One such leader, Yehuda Etzion, one of the Israeli extremists
arrested in the 1980s for belonging to a Jewish underground that was
plotting to blow up the Aksa Mosque, said Sunday that although an
attack on the Temple Mount is "a worthy goal," it is not the "desired
way" to stop Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan.
Etzion's remarks prompted immediate calls by Meretz and Shinui
Knesset members urging Attorney General Menahem Mazuz to press
charges against the ultra-nationalist leader for incitement.
"The time has arrived to stop treating right-wing activists with silk
gloves. If we don't stop them now, the blood that spills will be the
fault of everyone who stood on the side doing nothing," said MK Ilan
Far-left Yahad leader Yossi Sarid on Sunday advocated barring Jews
from visiting the Temple Mount altogether in the wake of Hanegbi's
warnings. Until its reopening last August, the site had been closed
to Jews and Christians for nearly three years due to concern over
renewed Palestinian violence.
Likud MK Ehud Yatom, who as a former Shin Bet official was one of the
commanders of the operation to seize the members of the "Jewish
Underground" terror group, revealed Sunday that the group was "very
close" to carrying out a planned multiple bombing against Muslim holy
sites on the Temple Mount in 1984.
Far-Right activists from the outlawed Kahane group released a
statement Sunday saying that Hangebi was preparing the ground for
Former Internal Security Minister and vocal anti-disengagement leader
Uzi Landau on Sunday said that everything possible needed to be done
to prevent an attack on the Temple Mount, and called on those against
the disengagement plan to understand that an attack on the Mount
would seriously harm their interests. "This will only strengthen the
extreme left and others to promote the process of surrender at a much
quicker pace," Landau said on Israel Radio.
Landau said administrative detentions could only be carried out if
security forces had "some concrete and specific information."
More than 50,000 Jewish and Christian visitors have peacefully toured
the ancient compound, which is Judaism's holiest site, since its
reopening to non-Muslim visitors a year ago.
Six months ago, the head of the Shin Bet Avi Dichter outlined the
potential danger from Jewish terrorists. Likely to intensify should
Israel start uprooting settlements, Dichter said their dream to
remove the 'abomination' - the mosques - from the Temple
Mount "should trouble us greatly."
"For the State of Israel and the Jewish people in the Diaspora,
Jewish terrorism is liable to create a substantial strategic threat
and to turn the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians into a
confrontation between 13 million Jews and 1 billion Muslims across
the world," Dichter said at the Herzliya Conference.
Etzion: I would not be suprised if an attack is being planned.
Yehuda Etzion, one of the activists convicted of plotting to destroy
the mosques on the temple mount, agreed to be interviewed Sunday by
He shied away from answering directly as to whether or not he would
do it again or still believes it should be done, saying only that he
no longer believes that blowing up the temple mount is the first
thing that needs to be done in the chain of events to lead up to the
building of the third temple, without elaborating on what this chain
does consist of.
When asked what had gone wrong in his plan, he answered, "There were
many people in the picture, but not enough people at the grassroots
level who were actually ready to do the act." He later denied
knowledge of any current plans against the mosques, saying only that
he wouldn't be surprised if after "37 years of the mount being in our
hands and not in our hands, it crossed somebody's mind."
"The current situation needs to be changed," he said. When asked who
needs to change it he answered. "Am Yisrael the people of Israel."
"If you had told a Jew in exile that someday the Jews would return to
Israel, and its soldiers would liberate the Temple Mount, but Jews
would allow the mosque to remain, yet still pray every day at the
wall, "If I forget you, o Jerusalem let my right hand forget its
usefulness," I don't think he would have believed you."
He stressed that the desire to return to the temple mount is not
simply a desire to 'be there,' or to 'have it,' rather a recognition
of the need to restore Israel "from the mundane to the holy.
Etzion conceded that blowing up the Temple Mount would most likely
not be looked favorable upon by the Arab world, though he implied
that it would be looked at as a sign of strength, rather than
weakness, a trait he said Israel was exuding by allowing the mosques
Noam Federman, speaking to Israel Radio from his Hebron home while
under house arrest, said, "I look at the Temple Mount as the holiest
place in Israel, where the Temple belongs, and without any
interference from the political schemes of Ariel Sharon one day the
third temple will be built there, and there wont be any more
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