Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ha'aretz: Five Israeli Jews Planned to Fire Missile at Dome of the Rock

This entry originally appeared on May 16; I have slightly edited and updated it with new link(s).

The premier Israeli English-language daily newspaper, Ha'aretz, reported on May 16 that Israeli internal security (Shin Bet) agents and Jerusalem police officers had arrested five Israeli Jews who they believed were plotting to launch an anti-tank missile at Dome of the Rock (left) before committing suicide in the Old City. Dome of the Rock, originally built during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik in 692 C.E. and rebuilt and refurbished several times since, is sacred to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, since it is traditionally believed to contain the rock formation where the Prophet Muhammad ascended into the Seven Heavens to meet God and the Prophets of old.

According to Ha'aretz, the Israeli security establishment reported that the five Jewish men had toured the Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount, which Jews believe is the spot of the Biblical Mount Moriah where King Solomon built the First Temple, and where the second and Herod's massive reconstructed temples also stood, before they were finally destroyed by Roman legions during the Great Jewish Revolt of 66-72 C.E.

Although traditional religious Jews believe that the Messiah will rebuild the Temple, radical Jewish groups, including many that make up the bulk of the militant Jewish settler movement, believe that they must destroy the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque and begin rebuilding the Temple before the Messiah will deem them "worthy" and thus return. Last year, Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter (left) warned of the dangers that such radical Jewish militants pose to the state of Israel, saying that they threatened to turn the Arab-Israeli conflict into a wider, religious war that would pit 13 million Jews against 1.5 billion Muslims.

A recent plot to pilot a model airplane laden with powerful explosives into the Dome of the Rock has also been uncovered during the last two years.

Palestinian Muslims, knowing that religious buildings on the Haram have been attacked before, continue to be agitated by these reports.

In 1969, an Australian Evangelical Christian set fire to al-Aqsa, severely damaging one of its wings and destroying a pulpit (minbar) from the time of the great Kurdish Muslim Sultan Salah ud-Din Yusuf ibn al-Ayyub, who recaptured the city from the Crusaders in 1187 C.E. An Israeli court judged him to be insane and released him to Australian authorities.

In 1982, an American member of the Israel Defense Forces fired at the Dome of the Rock, killing two Palestinians and wounding nine others.

In 1984, Israeli security forces uncovered a plot by the radical Gush Emunim settler movement to blow up Dome of the Rock.

Israeli militants (right), mostly from the extreme right of the settler movement, seek to not only forcibly expel all Arabs and Muslims from the state of Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, they also want to destroy the current Israeli state. They hate the secular nature of this state and seek to replace it with a religious state run by militant interpretations of Jewish law. In fact, many wish to provoke a great conflict with the Arabs and Muslims in order to achieve this. What they seem to forget is that they are in the minority around the world. Any conflict that they provoke will bring nothing but harm to the Israeli state and the Jewish communities outside of it.

For the Ha'aretz stories, see:

For an in-depth look at the radical Israeli settler movements, see PBS' Frontline special program: