Tue 20 Feb 2024 6:42 pm - Jerusalem Time

Hebrew Newspaper: In preparation for Ramadan: Israel must keep the religious giant in the bottle

By Nadav Sargai

Absolutely preventing Arabs from entering Israel to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque could unleash the religious genie from the bottle in Jerusalem - a genie that Israel has been able to imprison so far.

Preventing residents of East Jerusalem and Arabs in Israel from entering the mosque during Ramadan in a comprehensive manner could push many of them to openly show solidarity with Gaza, and push them into the arms of “Hamas” and actively participate in “terrorism” and operations.

Israel has no interest in a confrontation - particularly religious - with the Arabs in Israel and in East Jerusalem. Therefore, it is better to listen to the position of the Israeli police, which has put East Jerusalem in general, and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, out of the war, through its professional work over the past four months alongside the Shin Bet.

The successes cannot be debated: If the residents of East Jerusalem and the Arabs in Israel were now part of the storm and “terrorism and violence,” there would be logic in preventing them from entering the Temple Mount. Given that the reality is different there in general - there is no need to forcefully bring them into the circle, by comprehensively preventing everyone from entering the mosque.

What is correct is to establish blacklists: preventing the entry of “instigators and saboteurs” from certain categories, and those who have a significant record of provocations in the mosque, confrontations and operations. Many residents of Umm al-Fahm and Kafr Kana are like this, as those areas are clear centers of the northern trend of the Islamic movement in Israel, which was considered outlawed.

Over the years, Umm al-Fahm has been the center of many operations. The most notable was the operation carried out in July 2017, in which two police officers were killed. The funeral of the "murderers" turned into a display of hatred against Israel, and about 10,000 residents of the city participated in it. As for Kafr Kana, where the “instigator” Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib lives, it witnessed strong confrontations during the “Keeper of the Walls” campaign, in which many people participated.

In Huwwara in the Negev, there are large gatherings of residents, from which ISIS activists emerged. The same applies to the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, which is a “bad hotspot” in itself, and from which many “saboteurs” emerged who killed or attempted to kill Jews, after they were incited by the false narrative of our generation: Al-Aqsa is in danger.

Even if expressions were made by hundreds of Arabs in Israel since the beginning of the war, in which they identify with “Hamas,” or with the “massacre,” and tens of thousands who thought the same way and chose to remain silent, this is not sufficient reason to prevent two million people (21% of the population in Israel) from entering the mosque and praying in it during the month of Ramadan.

As for the East Jerusalem community. As in the West Bank, the percentage of support for Hamas is high, but the deterrence and relative calm that has been recorded so far on this front, and the desire to maintain that, all push us to be smart, not just honest. The police and the Shin Bet in Jerusalem know the neighborhoods well, as well as the community in the east of the city, in order to catch those who are prohibited from entering the mosque, and allow others.

The pressure cooker in East Jerusalem is boiling, but it has not gone beyond its limits. And if you leave - the rules of the game will change. Currently, in order to prevent this exit, residents of East Jerusalem must be allowed into the mosque during Ramadan. It would be better for Israel to swallow this matter.


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