PA official slams Hamas for turning Temple Mount into political battleground, pledges to reduce terror group’s influence over site — but it may be too late.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are partnering to try to reduce Hamas’ influence and control over the Temple Mount as a takeover of the compound by the Gaza-based terror group appears imminent.
During the month-long Ramadan holiday period, Hamas flags and banners were prominently displayed at the holy site and mobs openly chanted praise for the terror group’s leaders, acts which were alarming to the site’s traditional custodians.
Hamas has transformed Al-Aqsa Mosque from a place of worship to a “podium for disseminating its ideology and political messages,” a Palestinian Authority official told the Jerusalem Post.
The official pledged that the PA and Jordan “will not allow Hamas to take control of the mosque,” though it appears that such an outcome has already occurred.
Arabic-language reports indicate that the Islamic house of worship is Hamas territory, and social media videos depict PA loyalists and Fatah officials being pushed out of the site.
While the official was not forthcoming about Jordanian and PA efforts to regain control of the compound, they did say that Waqf guards had been instructed to swiftly remove Hamas flags when displayed within the compound.
Guards were also given orders notto allow worshippers to bring fireworks and other projectiles to the site.
Despite the daunting challenges facing the PA, which aims to regain control of the mosque, another Palestinian official told the Jerusalem Post that support or help from Israel would be vehemently rejected.
Ahmed Ruwaidi, an advisor for Jerusalem affairs at the PA president’s office, said Israel should not interfere and emphasized “the need to preserve the existing historical and legal situation at the site, and to respect Jordan’s role as guardian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”
Indeed, the PA has also incited antisemitic terror from the mosque over the years. Just one example: In September 2015, at the height of the “Knife Intifada,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas stated:
“Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so, and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.”
Who has control?
In May 2021, Maor Tzemach, chair of the NGO Your Jerusalem, warned World Israel News that Hamas had de-facto control of the Temple Mount.
“The real PA elections in Jerusalem are happening in the street, and so far the winner is Hamas,” he said. “We saw on social media that Hamas is clearly active on the Temple Mount, as they raised their flags there [during the riots in early May 2021].
“Hamas chief Mohammed Deif publicly took responsibility for Jerusalem and said that if [Israel doesn’t withdraw from Temple Mount], we’ll go to war against Israel, and that’s exactly what happened. From that moment, it proved that Fatah just threatens but doesn’t actually do anything.
“The real ‘defender of Jerusalem’ is Hamas. When it comes to Sheikh Jarrah and al-Aqsa Mosque, Hamas was the only terror group that actually responded,” Tzemach said.
“Fatah activists don’t dare enter the Temple Mount, because it’s Hamas territory. As we saw in a viral video, Fatah members who tried to enter were beaten up and thrown out of the compound.”