“Price tag” graffiti was sprayed on a Baptist Church in central Jerusalem on Sunday evening (19 February). This is just the latest in a wave of harassments against Christian and Muslim institutions, or those perceived as “left-wing”, in Jerusalem over the past two months. In the past two weeks alone the bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in southern Jerusalem was attacked, in addition to two churches.
On Sunday 19 February, Muslim youth confronted Israeli police forces on Haram al Sharif during a visit of tourists accompanied by police after a website identified with the Israeli right, Har Habayit Shelanu (Temple Mount is Ours, in Hebrew), called on Jews to take over Haram al Sharif. The website published an announcement by the Temple Mount and Temple movements, which declared that Sunday 19 February was a “day of mass pilgrimage for strengthening Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount. In response, during last Friday’s Muslim prayers, calls were made to demonstrate at Haram al Sharif on Sunday morning.
According to the aforementioned website, Knesset Member Ori Ariel was supposed to participate in the event. One week previously, the police prevented Moshe Feiglin, an activist in the right-wing of the Likud party,from entering Haram al Sharif.
Some 18 Palestinians were detained during and after Sunday’s confrontations.
Amongst Israeli right-wing activists are those who contend that the Har Habayit Shelanu website is a police provocation. However, even those organisations considered relatively moderate frequently call for a change in the status quo on Haram al Sharif. In an opinion published on 13 February, an American Zionist organisation called on the Israeli government to stop discriminating against Jews on the “Temple Mount” and to ensure the right of Jews to pray there.
According to the organisation, “the Temple Mount and not the Western Wall is the most holy site for the Jews”. The organisation adds that “a Jew who understands the meaning of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount cannot be silent and allow the Muslims to dispossess him from what belongs to us by law”.
Additionally, the Women’s Forum for the Temple, headed by Einat Ziv and Rivka Shimon, organise a women’s pilgrimage twice monthly to Haram al Sharif. In response to this initiative, Muslim religious leaders called on Muslim women to enter Haram al Sharif and protect it.
The Jordanian Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, said following the confrontations on Sunday that the actions of radical Israelis and Knesset members are dangerous provocations that hurt the feelings of all Muslims. Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, denounces Israeli attempts to alter the local status quo and called on Muslims to organise in defence of Islam’s holy site. In an opinion published on Monday, Sheikh noted that Haram al Sharif is a red line and that Muslims will not sit quietly if it is attacked.
* This article was originally published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).