Hamas Supporters Desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque, and International Opinion Blames Israel

“Israeli Police Raid Jerusalem Mosque,” read a characteristically misleading New York Times headline last week. The caption to the accompanying photograph explained that the police “arrested Palestinian worshipers who had barricaded themselves inside a prayer hall at a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City.” But, as Bassam Tawil explains, those arrested were not worshippers in any usual sense:

Since the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on March 22, Israeli authorities have taken a series of measures to enable free access for Muslim worshippers to the Aqsa mosque compound. . . . The measures include providing free-of-charge shuttle services for the worshippers, as well as sealing off several main streets in Jerusalem to traffic so that the Muslims will be able to enter and exit the city without delay.

As a result, tens of thousands of Muslims from Israel and the West Bank were able to attend prayers at the mosque, especially on Fridays, in the first two weeks of Ramadan. That is until a group of extremist Muslims decided to turn the Aqsa mosque compound into a scene of anarchy and lawlessness, violating the sanctity of the holy site and endangering the lives of the remaining peaceful worshippers who came to the holy site with the sole purpose of praying and not engaging in any acts of violence.

These extremists, some wearing masks, seemingly did not come to pray. They came, on the face of it, with the aim of rioting and causing disorder. They came with stones, fireworks, wood planks, and iron rods. That is not what Muslim worshippers usually bring to a mosque. They prevented worshippers from leaving the mosque. Their intention was, to all appearances, to create a violent riot against Jewish visitors and the police. In addition, they desecrated the mosque by smuggling fireworks, clubs, and stones into the mosque and barricading themselves inside it using iron rods and furniture among other objects.

There is no law prohibiting non-Muslims, including Jews, from touring the site. In fact, the Islamic religious authorities have long welcomed non-Muslims as visitors at the Aqsa mosque compound. The issue here, however, is that some Muslims have decided that they do not want to see any Jews visiting the site. That is apparently because Muslim leaders, including the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, have been telling their people that the Jews have no right to visit Judaism’s holiest site.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Temple Mount

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7