Thursday, February 15, 2007
Israel's encroachments upon the Al-Aqsa Mosque have not been sporadic, but, rather, a systematic endeavour
By Khaled Amayreh
"When Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli army's chief rabbi, General Shlomo Goren, tried to convince a commander of the conquering forces, Uzi Narkis, to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque "once and for all". This story was retold by Narkis shortly before his death in 1997 and quoted by Avi Shlaim in his important book, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.
"There was an atmosphere of spiritual elation. Paratroopers were milling around in a daze. Narkis was standing for a moment on his own, deep in thought, when Goren went up to him and said 'Uzi, this is the time to put a hundred kilogrammes of explosives in the Mosque of Omar, and that's it. We'll get rid of it once and for all.' Narkis said 'Rabbi, stop it.' Goren then said to him, 'Uzi, you'll enter the history books by virtue of this deed.' Narkis replied, 'I have already recorded my name in the pages of the history of Jerusalem.' Goren walked away without saying another word."
Goren re-entered the Haram Al-Sharif esplanade on 15 August 1967, in military uniform along with two-dozen soldiers from the Israeli army, in order to take measurements of its length and width. Afterwards, Goren announced where the Jewish "Second Temple" would be positioned. Two weeks after this incident, the Israeli occupation army seized the key to the Moroccan Gate leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Four days after the seizure of East Jerusalem, Israeli army bulldozers wantonly demolished the Maghariba and Al-Sharaf neighbourhoods, levelling them to the ground. The Palestinian inhabitants of the two neighbourhoods were expelled unceremoniously at gunpoint. At least 135 houses, two mosques, and two religious schools were completely destroyed.
In April 1968, Israel confiscated the Haret Al-Maghariba for "public use" and built on the site a large plaza in front of the so-called "Wailing" or "Western Wall". The Haret Al-Maghariba and the adjacent smaller Haret Al-Sharaf, which was also obliterated, were both Islamic waqf (religious endowment) property dating back to the Kurdish Muslim warrior Salaheddin Al-Ayoubi who defeated the Crusaders and restored Jerusalem to Islam......."