It is that time of the year again. Once again the tensions between Israel and Palestinians are rising. From September 2015, a new wave of Palestinian stabbing and car ramming attacks started targeting Israelis. As part of this wave of terrorism, recently three Palestinians smuggled weapons into Al-Aqsa mosque and went on to kill two Israeli Druze policemen. Israeli security forces, following their shoot-to-kill policy for terrorists, shot dead the three attackers on the spot. Israeli authorities proceeded to shut down Al-Aqsa for all activity for two days. During this time Israeli security forces conducted a search operation and recovered several light weapons, including machetes. The mosque was reopened for worshippers with a small change: Israel had installed metal detectors at the Al-Aqsa entrance. This measure was meant for the security of both Muslims and Jews but to Palestinians this constituted as a change in status quo. Palestinian leaders rejected the measure and condemned Israel for daring to protect its citizens. Palestinians went on to boycott prayers at Al-Aqsa and instead chose to pray outside Al-Aqsa on the street. Everyone knew this was for show. Israel would never put the lives of its citizens in jeopardy just because Palestinians are emotionally disturbed. But this stupidity was encouraged by leaders across Muslim majority world. Leaders such as Turkey’s Erdogan and Jordan’s King Abdullah. The hypocrisy of King Abdullah condemning Israel is quite remarkable since Jordan itself tried to install security cameras at Al-Aqsa in 2016 but the initiative was put on hold because of (surprise!) opposition from Palestinians. This happened despite the fact that Al-Aqsa is under custody of Jordan-backed Islamic Waqf. Even though both Israel and Jordan want the same things, the chance of ‘appealing’ to emotional sentiments of the gullible sheep is rarely ever missed in the Muslim majority world.
Palestinians were further encouraged to continue their boycott and rioting by Abbas of Palestinian Authority who announced that he’s freezing ties with Israel. While this move is obviously hypocritical of Abbas since his government has survived for this long precisely because of Israel, it was also not surprising since Abbas has Hamas in mind. Taking a strong line against Israel at this time, in Abbas’ mind, would help Palestinian Authority gain some of the credibility among the extreme segment of Palestinians that it lost to Hamas.
The situation further escalated when Israeli security forces opened tear gas on rioting Palestinians which resulted in clashes that killed at least one Palestinian and injured half a dozen Israeli police personnel. This was followed by a gruesome stabbing attack by Palestinian terrorists in West Bank where three Israelis of the same family were brutally killed. The funeral of the family members was attended by thousands of Israelis.
There was also a shooting incident at the Israeli embassy in Amman where an Israeli guard shot dead a Jordanian attacker and another Jordanian injured in the shooting later died in the hospital. After this incident, Israel closed its embassy and consulates in Turkey.
Now let’s be clear. Israel is in the position of power and has no reason to back down except its own goodwill. Surely, no country would tolerate attacks on its citizens and security forces. Israel is also very lenient for a country that is considered an occupation. When rebels in British-held India used to attack British forces, they were sometimes skinned alive. For a country of people routinely compared with their own oppressors (Nazis), Israelis are anything but Nazi-like. If Israelis were actually Nazis, there would be no Palestinians today. 70 years are enough to get rid of a whole population of a continent. It took Nazis less than 10 years to kill millions in Europe, including Jews. It took Mao and Stalin less than 70 years to kill millions. So why is it that Palestinians still exist and are actually growing in number faster than Jews in Israel? Maybe that is because Israel is NOT engaged in ethnic cleansing. Similarly, today there are once again cries throughout the Muslim majority world that Israel is about to demolish Al-Aqsa. This, again, is something that we are hearing since around last 88 years – yes, even before Israel was created. Indeed, even before Israel’s formation, Arabs routinely accused the Jews living in Middle East of trying to take over or dismantle Al-Aqsa. If Israel actually wanted to dismantle Al-Aqsa, it can do that tomorrow and there’s NOTHING Muslim majority world would be able to do about it. Sure, there will be violence but Israel will likely survive that phase. Israel is a nuclear power that has the Samson Option for tough times. It is a country that has developed value for the life of its citizens in the eyes of the world and which takes its security very seriously. No country can afford to provoke a nuclear war with Israel without causing the end of the world. So if Israel wanted to dismantle Al-Aqsa, it would have done that by now. Yet, after 88 years of Palestinian propaganda, Al-Aqsa mosque continues to stand in all its glory. This is not to say that there are no Israelis who don’t want to get rid of Al-Aqsa for a temple. There indeed are – a fringe extremist element that wants Jewish right on the holy sites in the Old City. But Israel has done more to discourage them than Palestinian leadership ever has to discourage Palestinians from engaging in violence. Very recently Israeli police arrested a popular Jewish Rabbi for trying to pray near Al-Aqsa. Israeli law not only guarantees freedom of access to Al-Aqsa for Muslims and guaranteed protection to holy sites of all religions but goes one step ahead by banning non-Muslims, including Jews, from praying at Al-Aqsa. Yes, you read that correct. These inconvenient facts don’t usually make it to the media coverage on Israel in most Muslim majority countries.
Palestinians have way more freedom in Israel than Kashmiris have under Indian rule. Despite being the only country that has been berated this much at the UN for decades, Israel continues to be one of the most modern and advanced countries not only in Middle East but in the world. Many in Arab world have understood that Israel cannot be defeated – and if you can’t beat them, join them. But not everyone has understood this. There are still some delusional people who think that condemning Israel makes a difference.
When Muslims were in power, they pillaged and conquered. When Britain was an empire, it was the boss in the town. Israel, on the other hand, is a tiny country trying very hard to live in peace in its difficult neighborhood. Now only if Arabs can stop trying to provoke another war and end up giving even more land to Israel. Meanwhile it would be better for everyone to sit down and ask this one simple question: are metal detectors really worth it?
Sincs this article was published, it has been reported that Israel has reached a deal with Jordan – Israel will remove the metal detectors in exchange for the return of the Israeli guard from Jordan who shot dead a Jordanian attacker and the installation of advanced security cameras around Al-Aqsa. Israel has since then removed the metal detectors.