Sometimes, when holidays of various religions and ethnic groups fall in the same calendar space, optimists get misty visions of people praying, eating, and loving family together. But in reality, it is a coincidence. Groups and religions retain their boundaries—and sometimes take the opportunity to provoke.
As Passover, Ramadan, and Easter converged, Israel and the Waqf (the group that officially controls the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa) agreed on parameters for the compound to permit as many Muslim worshippers as possible to ascend. More than 100,000 did so; tens of thousands on the first day, according to Reuters. Al Arabiya agreed, with pictures.
Israel went further to ensure calm.
The rabbi of the Western Wall and Jerusalem holy sites announced there would be no Passover ritual sacrifice on the Temple Mount. Israeli government minister Itamar Ben-Gvir—often castigated as a rabble-rouser—made a public declaration calling for “calm.” “The Temple Mount is… the most important place in the State of Israel. We won’t give up on it,” however, “I’m not encouraging people to go there with a Passover sacrifice.” And, in fact, the director of the “Returning to the Mount” movement was detained by Israel “as a preventive measure,” and two Israelis were arrested after being seen with a goat in Jerusalem’s Old City—presumably trying to figure out how to get it up there and sacrifice it.
Israel, it seems, took more than reasonable measures to keep the calm.
For its part, the Waqf agreed that no one would remain inside the mosque overnight.
However, an estimated 300 Palestinian militants boarded themselves up in sections of the mosque overnight and, at a prearranged time, began to set off fireworks (incendiary devices that could easily have started fires inside the building) inside the mosque and threw rocks. Israeli police removed them. By morning, the next group of peaceful worshippers ascended again. (You can see a picture here.)
There appear to be two related motives for the terrorists: First, they are angry with Muslims who respect the rules, use the holiday time to actually have a holiday and celebrate in a peaceful fashion. Second, there is always the possibility that the Israeli police would overreact (“storm the mosque” in the terrorist vernacular) and prevent peaceful worshippers from gathering.
Either way, peaceful Muslims would pay, and Israel would be blamed.
But it didn’t happen. Israel did not overreact to provocation (unless one reads The New York Times) and the holidays continued.
So, it was necessary for the terrorists to up the ante. Hamas fired 16 rockets into Israel from Gaza during the Passover holiday. And a not-unexpected collaboration between Iranian-supported Hamas in Gaza and Iranian-supported Hezbollah in Lebanon produced more rockets—this time in northern Israel—as Jews were celebrating Passover. Then two Israeli sisters (ages 16 and 20) and their mother were killed in a West Bank shooting, and an Italian tourist was killed and six people injured in Tel Aviv.
Israel has already undertaken retaliation.
But pay attention here: Demonstrations of peaceful relations between Jews and Arabs and/or Israelis and Palestinians are antithetical to the Hamas/Hezbollah/Iranian message—augmented by the Palestinian Authority—of revolution and the desire to wipe Israel off the map. When the Palestinian people live and work with Israelis—and pray next to them—in a positive way, the revolution is dampened. The will to die for a cause that will never see fulfillment abates.
Israel will remain.
Terrorist groups can’t afford to have their supporters lose their hatred. They have manipulated the situation in Israel to prevent Palestinians from ascending to Al Aqsa, to ensure Palestinians are killed, and to force the Israeli military to enter Palestinian villages to root out terrorists and their weapons.
When you ask the question, “Who doesn’t want Muslims to celebrate Ramadan peacefully and happily at the Al Aqsa Mosque?” the answer is “Palestinian terrorists.”
Then ask, “Should they be allowed to succeed?”