Scared of a baby cow? Palestinians say Israel is planning to build the Third Temple, destroy Al Aqsa Mosque

Their source is a report on government funding a project to raise a red heifer, whose ashes, according to Torah law, can purify Jews so they can bring sacrifices again.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Arabs are up in arms over a supposed Israeli government plan to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque by rebuilding the Third Temple in its place in Jerusalem, following a Saturday report on Channel 12 that several ministries are funding efforts to raise a red heifer, which is considered a prerequisite for the coming of the Messiah.

Palestinian officials and commentators in Arab media from Al Jazeera to Jordanian news sites and Gazan TV wholly accepted the report, which centered on the supposed danger of the right-wing-religious coalition turning Israel into a halachic (run by Torah law) state.

Al Jazeera cited Dr. Saleh Lutfi, “a researcher in Jewish, Zionist, and political affairs,” as saying that in light of the current Palestinian and regional circumstances, the Netanyahu government the time is ripe to “realize the myth of building the alleged ‘Third Temple.’”

Lutfi also claims that the idea of rebuilding the Temple “has become rooted even among large segments of the Israeli secular and liberal movement, as well as among the circles of the so-called Jewish Zionist left.”

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Palestinian Shehab News reported that the deputy director of the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem, Najeh Bakirat, “confirmed that the occupation government adopted the project to build the Temple in the place of Al-Aqsa, to make Jerusalem a Jewish capital…through several steps and nonstop violations against the mosque.”

On Hamas station Al-Aqsa, Dr. Shihab went even further, stating that “the Israeli government has a plan to cause a religious war in the region” and that bringing red heifers to Jerusalem shows that “the fascist Israeli government encourages the settlers to continue harming Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Five red heifers were brought to Israel in September 2022 after being raised by a Christian Evangelist in Texas. One of them was brought last month to Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for over 300 years prior to the first Temple’s construction. Along with two others, the heifer will be at the heart of a planned Heritage Center to attract tourism to the site.

According to Jewish tradition, a purely red heifer is the only animal whose ashes can be used to purify Jews so they can serve in the Temple and bring sacrifices. There is a host of requirements that the animal must meet, and none has been found in 2,000 years.

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The Channel 12 report said that “millions of shekels are transferred to organizations that promote the issue.” It listed several ministries that have helped in “the frantic search” for a red heifer, including the Agriculture Ministry that granted the exemption for last year’s import of the live animals. The Religious Services, Education, and Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage ministries “are also in the picture,” according to the report.

The red heifer project is under the auspices of the Temple Institute, which has constructed many of the implements that would be needed for the Third Temple according to the Bible’s instructions, including its solid-gold Menorah and the priestly garments. The national-religious organization believes that everything that can be done ahead of time, should be done. It has never promoted the idea that existing structures on the Temple Mount should be destroyed.