Facing riots at the Temple Mount and renewed rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel is voicing disappointment at the lack of international support it’s receiving in battling terrorism. And this past weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took that rebuke to one of the most powerful men in the world.
Speaking with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday night, Bennett “expressed his disappointment at the absence of condemnation by the UN” for Gaza firing rockets at Israel, according to an Israeli press release on the call. Bennett also addressed the ongoing Palestinian-instigated riots at the Temple Mount, about which Guterres has at best equivocated by calling on all sides to ease tensions, rather than oppose the terrorists stoking the conflict.
“The international community must not serve the agenda of the terrorist organizations,” Bennett told Guterres. “Israel is the stabilizing force; if we did not uphold order, tens of thousands of Muslims would not be able to pray. These are people who prepared rocks and Molotov cocktails in advance for use from inside the mosque.”
Bennett’s strong words followed a statement from Guterres released by his spokesperson last week that failed to call out the terrorists sparking the Temple Mount riots—other than generally calling for the end of “provocations”, incitement, and violence—and instead said Guterres was working with leaders to “do all they can to lower tensions, avoid inflammatory actions and rhetoric, and restore calm.”
In addition to the language that did not clearly distinguish between the terrorists rioting and the Israeli security forces trying to keep the peace, the UN chief’s statement—published to the UN website—implicated Israel was partly to blame for the Palestinian violence by reiterating “the need to avoid the excessive use of force and to stop all unilateral measures, like settlements and evictions, that can undermine the two-state solution.”
In response to comments such as these, not only did Bennett verbally challenge Guterres himself, but Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sought to set the record straight in comments to the press on Sunday.
“During Ramadan, terrorist organizations have been trying to hijack the Al-Aqsa Mosque [on the Temple Mount] in order to create an outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, and from there, a violent conflict across the country. Hamas and Islamic Jihad extremists burst into Al-Aqsa Mosque in the early mornings, again and again. They brought weapons into the Mosque. They threw rocks and explosives from within it, and used it as a base to incite violent riots,” said Lapid in comments published to the Israeli government website.
He further noted, “It is not Israel that endangered worshippers—it is the terrorist organizations who endangered them.”
Lapid also took aim at a false claim that Israel is seeking to alter the so-called “status quo” of worship on the Temple Mount. Despite the site being the holiest location in Judaism, Israel prohibits Jews from praying atop the Temple Mount in a concession to Muslims.
“I want to clarify: Israel is committed to the Status Quo on the Temple Mount. Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims visit. There is no change. There will be no change. We have no plans to divide the Temple Mount between religions,” said Lapid. “We call on Muslim moderates, on Muslim states, to act against this fake news, and to work together with us to ensure our common interest: preservation of the Status Quo and calming the situation.”
Lapid also contrasted Israel’s efforts to maintain religious freedom in the face of the violence and the actions of the terrorist organizations driving the conflict. He noted that during the Muslim religious month of Ramadan, Israel ensured that hundreds of thousands of Muslims were able to visit the Temple Mount and pray.
“Despite provocations by terrorist organizations, despite attempts to stoke violence: We have done, and continue to do, everything to enable peaceful prayer. In fact, the only disruption to prayers yesterday was a Hamas rally which took place on the Temple Mount. Hamas terrorists stood there and openly called for the murder of Jews. That is Hamas’s prayer—an antisemitic call for the slaughter of innocents.”
And Hamas isn’t just calling to kill Jews—they’re enabling it as terrorists in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are firing rockets at Israel. According to the IDF Twitter feed, multiple rounds of rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel last week. This included one rocket that missed Israel and instead landed inside Gaza “next to a globally-funded @UNRWA school” and injured a Palestinian, noted an IDF Twitter post. Said the tweet, “Terrorists in Gaza don’t care about the lives of Israelis—or Palestinians.”
In response to the rocket-fire, the IDF Twitter feed reported multiple rounds of Israeli counterstrikes against terrorist targets. Lapid alluded to this reaction to terrorism in his comments to the media on Sunday.
“Israel will not accept rocket fire from Gaza. Period,” said Lapid. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for attacks on our territory.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 24, 2022)