The brutal stabbing attack at Halamish, which left a grandfather of 70, his son and daughter dead while still in their 40s and a grandmother of 78 badly injured – when the family was gathered for the Sabbath Eve meal on Friday, July 21 – was no random act of terror. It followed directly and consistently on the murder of two Israeli police guards on Temple Mount exactly one week earlier. The planners of the first outrage, perpetrated by three Israeli Arabs, knew exactly that such action would ignite flames which would claim many Israeli and Palestinian lives.
Halamish is a small Orthodox Jewish community of 250 families, not far from Ramallah, which is walled, gated and guarded. Nevertheless, a 19-year old Palestinian from the nearby village of Kubar, was able to scale the wall, burst in on the family and repeatedly slash four of its members. The wife of the murdered son grabbed the five children who were visiting their grandparents, hid with them in another room and phoned the police, while a neighbor, a 19-year old soldier on leave, shot the terrorist through a window and so finally stopped the carnage.
The paramedics, though experienced in terrorist atrocities had to overcome their horror at the bloodbath in which they went to work to save laves. For the grandfather and his son, it was too late. His daughter died under their hands, and the grandmother was removed to hospital in serious condition.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided to profit from the high tension around Temple Mount since the July 14 murder of the Israeli policemen. Accusing Israel of declaring a religious war (sic), he announced earlier Friday that he was suspending all Palestinian security cooperation with Israel. This demonstrated extreme hutzpah, considering that it is this cooperation which keeps him in power. He deals directly with American and American parties which support his security forces and serve as go-between for Palestinian ties with their Israeli counterparts.
If the Palestinians choose to continue along the path of violence, their American and European backers will face the dilemma over whether to continue to sponsor terror. Making a public issue of this will effectively put paid to all efforts at diplomacy for ending the dispute – whether local or regional.
And that is exactly what the three Muslim gunmen were after when they shot dead three Israeli police guards at the Lion’s Gate entrance to Temple Mount.
The Palestinians are consistent in their tactics: First shed Israeli blood, then tell the world they are victims and as martyrs are justified in seeking revenge – especially against “the sons of apes and pigs who defile Al Aqsa.” This was how the Halamish killer Omar al-Abed, 19, a Hamas sympathizer, described the Jews in the “will” he posted on Facebook three hours before the murders. Except that instead of dying with a martyr’s halo, he survived.
The whole week, it was dinned into Palestinian and Israeli Muslims by their leaders, including elected members of the Israeli parliament, that the Al Aqsa compound, an artificial mountaintop platform built as the site of the Jewish Temple more than 2,000 years ago, is exclusive Muslim property and no Jew has the right to set foot in the “Noble Sanctuary.” This claim also applies to Jerusalem, known in Arabic as Al Quds.
The most notorious metal detectors in Middle East history became emblems that objectified their rage that Iover Israeli sovereignty in Temple Mount and the holy city. This has exposed the dispute as being a national rather than a religious dispute.
For Israel, sovereignty over its capital and the site of the Jewish temples, which was won at great cost in a war of defense after millennia of exile, is not in question. The government’s reiterated pledge to preserve the status quo on Temple Mount and the cities holy places is solidly backed up. But it cuts no ice with the Palestinians since the pledge is offered by an entity they consider a usurper.
Nothing less will satisfy them than Israel relinquishing Temple Mount to the full control of the Waqf Muslim Authority.
But this presents another problem. For decades, Israeli governments has provisionally quelled endless outbreaks of violence, by rescinding pieces of control to Muslim authority – the Waqf or Jordan, allowing the Hashemite King to claims custodianship of Al Aqsa. But it was never enough to keep Palestinian violence down for long. The Waqf was even permitted to build an extension to Al Aqsa, which they rewarded by trashing the relics of the Jewish Temples discovered by the builders.
But Israel has now reached the end of its tether. It is obvious that even if the metal detectors installed at Temple Mount gates are removed or replaced, the violence unleashed at Temple Mount on July 14 was just an opener, followed a week later by the Halamish murders.
A surge Palestinian clashes with police across Jerusalem earlier Friday left three Palestinian rioters dead. Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott Saturday ordered a massive call-up of IDF and police reinforcements to try and put a lid on the violence and protect the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.