The Israeli occupation police have seized al-Aqsa mosque, assaulted Palestinian civilians and barricaded the mosque area in a first step towards their so-called “national heritage restoration project.” This project is a $107 million plan to restore areas they claim prove Israelis’ connection to the land. Some 150 sites are listed. Among them many Islamic and Christian sites are named on this ‘heritage list’, devised and set into action by Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.
Many of the listed sites lie in the West Bank, which was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994 under the Gaza-Jericho agreement. On the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ own website the agreement states that “the Israeli Civil Administration in Gaza and the Jericho area has been dissolved and its powers and responsibilities transferred to the Palestinian Authority in the following civilian spheres” which lists among other things planning and zoning, archeology and religious affairs.
But in true Israeli fashion and with deceptive disregard to political agreements or promises, they took it upon themselves to restore these sites that are not in their territory. Zionists are masters of gradualism, they took Palestinian land slowly, brick by brick. Israel has built more than 100 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, where more than 500,000 Jews reside. The World Court has ruled that these settlements are illegal under international law yet they remain untouched. Because when it comes down to it, Israel does what it wants while the rest of the world merely condemns and watches.
Palestinian Authorities have expressed outrage at this clear violation and warned that Israel’s actions will hinder the peace process and ignite another religious war. Peace is not on the Zionists’ agenda. Judaisation of the state of Israel is. Therefore, the logical form of action is to seize, desecrate and stamp the Jewish mark on both Islamic and Christian sites in order to serve that purpose.
Since 1946 hundreds of mosques have been seized as the world stood silent, some were demolished and many were turned into restaurants and nightclubs. The Ibrahimi mosque was invaded with the same “restoration” excuse, a quite ridiculous one, because the Palestinians have been adequately maintaining it for more than a hundred years. Their request was simply to add a candle holder in the Ibrahimi mosque, once accessed it was seized. Now prayer times are regulated by Israel and “promises” to allow Muslims shared access to the Ibrahimi mosque have been given.
Today it is the same old excuse but on a much wider and more invasive scale. Israel wants to take hold of al-Aqsa mosque. Israel’s audacity is fuelled by the Arab and now Islamic nations’ silence. It is al-Aqsa mosque, one of the three holiest Islamic sites in the world. The direction every Muslim prayed towards before the Ka’aba was built. It is where Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) made his night journey. How far does Israel have to go for the Arab governments and Islamic nations to speak up and take action?
This is a clear sign from Israel that it wants nothing to do with the peace process and a slap in the face for the Obama administration that is trying to foster it. Governments should not constraint themselves to the issuing of condemnation notices to the press. All Arab governments should sever political and business relations with Israel immediately. Meanwhile, sadly in the same week as al-Aqsa invasion Egyptian courts allowed the sale of gas to Israel.
The person will riot, take to the streets, shout and scream but it is the government that should speak in our voice and echo what our hearts and minds are hollering. How long can we stay quiet, silenced by our fear of political rejection? We are fed up with the words condemn and denounce. If we take a stand, if we grow a spine we will not be prosecuted because what we are asking for is not irrational, it is a right.
We are asking for our history and our rights to be preserved and protected. For our political agreements to be honoured and respected, not disregarded and invaded. The United Nations condemned Israel’s restoration project but after the Goldstone Report we have come to realise the truth that left a bad taste in our mouths. The truth that even the United Nations cannot make a difference when Israel is on trial.
If our governments do not act, and act with serious vigour, then al-Aqsa mosque will slowly but surely crumble and fall. No matter how many stones are flung at the bulldozers, in thirty months’ time and as planned by Israel al-Aqsa will be owned by them. It will become a tourist attraction to bring in revenues for the Israeli government and will eventually hold Jewish names and recently etched markings of the Jewish so-called historical connection.
It is an outrage and a crying shame that while we go about our daily lives we leave it up to the people of Palestine to protect the mosque with a wall of their own bodies. Relentlessly trying to put a stop to the Israeli occupation army, which spares no means to combat a stone flung by a child towards their tanks.
Our governments are more powerful than they seem to think. End the era of Arab government passivity and impotence and use your power to stop this crime against history, human rights and religion.
This article was published in The Gulf Today on 7th of March, 2010.