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Hamas Calls for Escalation as Ramadan Tension Simmers

April 14, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel

Thursday, 14 April 2022 | Terror leaders in the Gaza Strip yesterday issued a clarion call for the Palestinian people to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount tomorrow to protect it from perceived threats by the Jewish people.

Following a meeting between terrorist factions in Gaza yesterday, led by the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, they released a statement calling on “our people in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], Jerusalem and Israel to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque this coming Friday, and call on the Palestinian resistance to stay vigilant and be prepared to defend the mosque.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, sits atop the Temple mount—the holiest site in Judaism, where the first and second temples once stood—making it a lightning rod for religious tension.

And now, as the Islamic holiday of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Passover are coinciding, tensions threaten to boil over into violence.

The tense status quo on the Temple Mount allows non-Muslims to visit the site, but they are not allowed to pray there or conduct any religious ceremonies.

However, a fringe Jewish group called The Returning to the Mount drew ire when it made a Facebook announcement offering a cash prize to anyone who would successfully sacrifice a lamb on the holy site, or if they were arrested during the attempt.

Hamas called this a “dangerous escalation that crosses all red lines, as it is a direct assault on the belief and feelings of our people and our nation during this holy month,” as quoted by the Times of Israel.

Any such attempts will be blocked, Israeli officials said, in order to keep the peace.

The month-long holiday of Ramadan is marked by fasting from sunrise to sunset, reading the Quran and gathering in the mosque multiple times per day for prayer. It is a time to practice self-restraint as one of the five pillars, or foundations, of Islam.

The self-restraint was largely lacking over the first few nights of the holiday in Jerusalem, amid several nights of rioting in the Old City, particularly at the flashpoint of the Damascus Gate.

However, despite the riots, most of the violence this year has taken place outside of Jerusalem. The past few weeks in Israel have been one of the bloodiest in recent years, in a spate of terror attacks that have left 14 dead around the country.

Israeli security forces have been on high alert in Jerusalem, particularly the Old City, as well as other flashpoints around the country. After visiting survivors of the terror attack last week in Tel Aviv that left three people dead, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel is shifting “from defense to offense and [is] striking the sources of terrorism at any time and any place…”

Israeli forces have been conducting raids nearly every night into Arab villages in Judea and Samaria. According to security officials, they are arresting and detaining those suspected to have connections with the recent terror attacks or with ties to extremist groups.

Ramadan often sparks a rise in tensions, violence, terror attacks and riots. Last year in particular stirred the pot, as religious and political tensions triggered a clash that saw terrorists in the Gaza Strip launch more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel. The tension led to a volatile 11-day war, dubbed Operation Guardian of the Walls by the Israel Defense Forces.

Aside from the rockets, Ramadan 2021 also involved rioting, particularly in areas with mixed populations of Jews and Arabs, as well as heightened terror attacks.

Israelis fear a sequel to Guardian of the Walls—thus the uptick in Border Police officers and soldiers stationed around the country, a necessary security measure in the face of threats like Hamas’s clarion call to defend Al-Aqsa.

Posted on April 14, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 14, 2022)

Photo Credit: עומר מרקובסקי/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

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