In recent years, much anti-Israel agitation among Palestinians, and among Arab Israelis, has been provoked by false rumors that the Jewish state has plans to destroy, or to ban worshippers from, Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount. Behind much of this malicious propaganda is not only the Palestinian Authority itself, but also the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, an illegal Israel-based group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Nadav Shragai shows how Turkey has increasingly involved itself in supporting these efforts, and in establishing its influence over Islamic institutions in Jerusalem:
Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey regards itself as the representative of Muslim civilization, and Erdogan sees himself as the partner, patron, and protector of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Muslim world. His Islamic Justice and Development Party is close to the Muslim Brotherhood in its outlook. It seeks to reestablish Turkish influence in areas that in the past were part of the Ottoman empire. [In speeches], Erdogan has linked [this] distant vision of the caliphate with his current, central concern for Palestine, Jerusalem, and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
“Every day that Jerusalem is under occupation,” Erdogan has asserted more than once, “is an insult to us.” In the summer of 2017, he called to conquer Jerusalem by means of a mass influx of Muslim tourists to Israel, and over the years, he has indeed taken the trouble himself to encourage hundreds of thousands from Turkey to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque. His partner in Israel, [the Northern Branch’s leader Raed] Salah, meanwhile promoted the project of transporting large numbers of Israeli Arabs to al-Aqsa as well as the activity of the Murabitun and Murabitat, [respectively, male and female agitators on the Tempe Mount].
They have been busy there daily for several years as a result of a well-planned and organized initiative. The women and men taking part received a monthly salary for their activity on the Mount, were brought there free of charge on chartered buses, and were supplied with food and drink.
Shragai explains that, behind these activities, which have repeatedly led to violence, is a “symbiosis” between Turkey and the Northern Branch.