With the Jewish High Holidays underway, tension and violence have increased in Jerusalem and especially in the Al-Aqsa compound. The immediate cause of the outbreak was the entry of Israeli security forces into Al-Aqsa in order to disperse militants preparing to clash with Jews visiting the compound. The tension escalated further after the Murabitun and Murabitat, two Islamic Movement organizations that stage vocal protests in the compound, were declared illegal.
As in previous conflicts related to Al-Aqsa, the Palestinians are claiming - despite sweeping denials by the Israeli government - that Israel is acting to allow Jews to worship in Al-Aqsa and thereby change the status quo there. Among the leaders of the protests is Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement - Northern Wing, who for years has been leading the "Al-Aqsa in Danger" campaign and whose followers have even dubbed him "the Sheikh of Al-Aqsa."
The Islamic Movement's campaign was joined by other Palestinian movements, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Later, PA President Mahmoud Abbas also expressed support for the Palestinian protests in Jerusalem, urging the Palestinian public to oppose "the defilers of the Al-Aqsa mosque."
The growing tension was also expressed in calls by Israeli Arab leaders for a third intifada to start during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and in a call by MK Ahmad Tibi for thousands of Murabitun to block Jerusalem's streets, for West Bank residents to join the intifada, and for Israeli Arabs to escalate their protests.
Below are excerpts from statements on the current conflict surrounding Al-Aqsa:
Israeli Arab Officials Call For Launching Intifada In Sukkot And Blocking Roads In East Jerusalem
Several Israeli Arab officials spoke of launching a third intifada, and some even suggested it would break out during the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot (September 27- October 4). The head of the Islamic Movement - Northern Wing, Raed Salah, told the Turkish news agency Anadolu: "If Israel's violations continue, a third Palestinian intifada will break out in the West Bank and Jerusalem." He also urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pressure Israel by appealing to international courts, and called on Jordan to take measures "more courageous" than mere condemnations.
'Ali Abu Sheikha, the Islamic Movement's advisor on East Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa affairs, assessed that "a real intifada will [begin] in late September, during Sukkot... The situation in Al-Aqsa is critical and dangerous and requires serious Palestinian and Arab action, even to the point of [launching] a third intifada that will deter the occupation."
The issue of a new intifada was also addressed by Israeli Arabs not from the Islamic Movement. KM Jamal Zahalka said: "The attacks on Al-Aqsa have reached a dangerous stage where nobody can remain neutral. The occupied interior [i.e., Israeli Arabs] will take action [to express their] rage in late September, when [Jews] invade [Al-Aqsa] during Sukkot."
Israeli Arab figures declared September 27 a "general call-up day" in preparation for "the invasion of Al-Aqsa by groups of Jews." MK Ahmad Tibi warned that Netanyahu is playing with fire and added: "Violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa and threatening to divide it is tantamount to playing with a keg of gunpowder... Continued aggression against the Palestinians and their holy sites will ignite a third intifada because the climate [today] is different. It will take only one young person killed to trigger an outbreak. The threat [to Al-Aqsa] requires the Arabs and Muslims to take action, the cities of the occupied West Bank to join the protests, and the Israeli Arabs to escalate their protests. Al-Aqsa needs us to intensify the protests and increase the number of Murabitun. We must block every road and alley in East Jerusalem with thousands of Murabitun and foil the attempt of settlers who want to infiltrate Al-Aqsa."
Mahmoud 'Abbas: Every Martyr Will Attain Paradise And Anyone Wounded Will Be Rewarded; The Israelis Will Not "Defile Them With Their Filthy Feet"
In a meeting with East Jerusalem residents, PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas urged them to continue opposing the "invasions" of Al-Aqsa and to prevent the Israelis from dividing it: "The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are ours. They are all ours, and they [the Israelis] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We shall not allow them to do so, and we shall do whatever we can to protect Jerusalem. We are in Jerusalem and will remain there. We will defend the places sacred to Christianity and Islam and will not abandon our city. We will continue to cleave to every inch of its soil and do everything to make its voice heard. I am confident that no harm will come to Jerusalem, even though Israel is waging a war of extermination against it. We will continue defending it under any circumstance. We are talking with everyone, and everyone is asking what we are doing to make [Jerusalem's] voice heard."
'Abbas congratulated the Murabitun and Murabitat, saying: "We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah. Allah willing, every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah." He said further: "I tell you in all honesty, a Palestinian state without Jerusalem will never be. The Palestinian state must include its capital... East Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967..."
For excerpts from the speech, click below:
Hamas Urges "Broad Popular Participation" In Al-Aqsa Protests; Islamic Jihad Calls For Intifada
Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials used the events in Jerusalem to call for an intifada. Hamas urged broad popular participation in protest marches for Al-Aqsa. Islamic Jihad official Khaled Al-Batsh called on the people of the West Bank to storm road blocks and start a popular intifada that will scorch the occupation and the settlers for Judaizing Jerusalem. He stressed that the resistance and the Palestinian people will not remain silent if Al-Aqsa is divided.
Hamas poster calling to participate in Al-Aqsa protests
The Supreme Muslim Council In Jerusalem: Israel Aims To Build A Temple Over The Ruins Of Al-Aqsa
On August 5, 2015, the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem launched a petition titled "The Blessed Al-Aqsa Is Calling Us." The council is headed by former Jerusalem Mufti and the Al-Aqsa Mosque preacher Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, who often takes part in the Islamic Movement's "Al-Aqsa in Danger" conferences. The petition said: "The Israeli occupation has been spreading rumors lately about 'agreements' or 'understandings' with the Jordanian government permitting Jews to enter the roofed places of worship - namely, the Al-Aqsa building and the Dome of the Rock - and about forming a joint body [of the Israeli occupation] and the Jordanian government, in coordination with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, in order to unearth Jewish antiquities within the blessed Al-Aqsa. We believe these rumors [are spread] deliberately, and reveal the greedy ambitions of the occupation regarding the blessed Al-Aqsa involving a plan to divide [prayer] times [between Muslims and Jews] and later divide the area, as a step towards building their [the Jews'] invented temple over the ruins of the blessed Al-Aqsa. Their greedy aggression against Al-Aqsa knows no bounds.
"Therefore, we saw fit to publish this document and to stress the following: The blessed Al-Aqsa... in its entirety, including all the places of worship and all the compounds within it, [whether] underground or aboveground, constitute a holy site belonging exclusively to Islam. Neither the Jews nor anyone else has a right to even an inch of it. The Jewish presence in Jerusalem constitutes illegitimate occupation that has no sovereignty over Al-Aqsa. The occupation will eventually be lifted from Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, Allah willing, thus putting an end to the suffering of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and our Palestinian people.
"Jews have no right to enter any part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque... Their mere presence constitutes an invasion; a usurpation of the Islamic, Arab and Palestinian rights; a blunt [act of] aggression against Al-Aqsa and a defilement of it. We stress that it is our right, under all divine and man-made laws, to oppose the Jew's invasion of any place of worship within Al-Aqsa and its compounds, under any pretext. Any agreement the Israeli occupation claims has been reached regarding Al-Aqsa, with any element, is groundless and is null and void.
"The Jordanian government must issue a statement refuting the claims of the occupation regarding Al-Aqsa. The cause of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa will continue to be a cause that unites all the religious groups and all the factions within our Palestinian society, and all of us will oppose the Israeli occupation and its despicable policy...
"We call upon our entire Palestinian people, our entire Muslim ummah and our Arab world - the leaders, peoples and clerics - to support this document and unite for the sake of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa..."
Al-Qaradhawi: The People Of Jerusalem Are Waging Jihad; I Am Willing To Lay Down My Life For Al-Aqsa
The head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, wrote on his website: "The defense of Al-Aqsa is a religious duty and visiting it is a supreme duty. Preventing the Zionists from defiling it is a duty, and providing material assistance to our brothers who are devotedly holding on to Al-Aqsa is a duty, [as Koran 9:41 says] 'Go forth, whether light or heavy, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah'...
"Whoever can fight the Zionists with his life, let him do so; whoever can help the Murabitun with money, let him do so, and whoever cannot [do either of these things] should pray for them sincerely. By Allah, how much I would have liked - if I [only] could- to join our brothers the Murabitun and our sisters the Murabitat, to place my hand in theirs and stand with them, shoulder to shoulder, ready to lay down my life for Al-Aqsa and defend it.
"Our peoples, our governments and our institutions [should know that] that no excuse will avail us before Allah on Judgment Day if the Jews manage to carry out their plots against Al-Aqsa while we still draw breath. Oh people of Jerusalem and the Murabitun in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, you are waging jihad. Hold fast, do not fear, for you have the upper hand...
"The Zionist are fighting in the name of religion and we must fight them in the name of the stronger religion. They are fighting us in the name of Judaism; let us fight them in the name of Islam. They are fighting us in the name of Moses; let us fight them in the name of Muhammad and Moses. They are fighting us in the name of the Torah; let us fight them in the name of the Koran.
"Oh Muslim ummah, the duty to defend Al-Aqsa and take action to restore it to our possession is the duty of all Muslims, not just of the Palestinians or the Arabs. It is an obligation of the entire Islamic ummah worldwide. An ummah of 1,700,000,000 Muslims should be ashamed if it abandons its religion and surrenders its [Al-Aqsa] Mosque to the Children of Israel...
"Let us act in the spirit of sacrifice [shown by] the Companions of the Prophet and in the firm spirit of the [early Muslim] conquerors. Let us rally to the banner of Khaled [bin Al-Walid] and Abu 'Ubaidah [bin Jarrah, two Companions of the Prophet who were illustrious generals], for the verses of the Koran that reverberate in our hearts refuse to let us to die or surrender, the Prophet's hadiths promise us Allah's clear victory, and His saying [in Koran 47:7], 'If you support Allah, He will support you,' touches the very depths of our hearts."
Al-Qaradhawi's statements on Facebook and Twitter (Facebook.com/alqaradawy, twitter.com/alqaradawy, September 13, 2015)
IUMS: The Muslims Must Save Al-Aqsa By Every Means
Al-Qaradhawi's organization, the IUMS, called for resisting Israel's actions by every means. It issued a statement saying: "The Union congratulates the steadfastness and the strong will of our people and our brothers the Murabitun in the sacred Al-Aqsa, who are giving their lives, their sons and their money to defend Al-Aqsa. The Union calls to help them with men and money...
"People of Palestine in the West Bank, in Gaza and the 48 territories, we know that you bear a very heavy burden, but it is your duty to redeem Al-Aqsa with your lives and with your sons, and with God's help you will spare no effort...
"Leaders of the Arab and Islamic world, your legitimacy depends on defending Al-Aqsa and stopping the spilling of its blood. If you do not act now in all areas to stop this escalation, when will you do so?!"
 Pls48.net, September 19, 2015.
 Alresalah.ps (Gaza), September 17, 2015.
 Alresalah.ps, September 16, 2015.
 Pls48.net, September 19, 2015.
 For an excerpt from 'Abbas's speech, see MEMRI TV Clip No. 5080, "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Jews 'Have No Right to Defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque with Their Filthy Feet,'" September 16, 2015.
 Aawsat.com, September 19, 2015.
 Al-Hayat.com, September 20, 2015.
 Sabri often takes part in the Islamic Movement's "Al-Aqsa in Danger" conferences.
 Pls48.net, August 27, 2015.
 Qaradawi.net, September 13, 2015.
 Qaradawi.net September 15, 2015.