PA Minister: Al-Aqsa was burnt "by criminal hands...
in collusion with the criminal occupation"
As part of its promotion of religious hatred against Jews, the Palestinian Authority disseminates the libel that Israel and Jews were behind the 1969 arson. Since the Al-Aqsa Mosque is an important holy site for Muslims, accusing "senior Jews of high position" of trying to destroy it is clearly an attempt by the PA to promote religious hatred against Jews. This particular accusation appeared in a documentary film about the arson, and was shown at an event under the auspices of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
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Palestinian Media Watch has documented that this libel has been propagated by the PA for years.
Joining the PA in spreading the libel this year:
- The Muslim Israeli Arab MP Ibrahim Sarsur, who told a Palestinian news service that he "demands" an annual Muslim commemoration of the day that "Israel set fire to Al-Aqsa."
- The PA Minister of Religious Affairs, who stated that the Al-Aqsa Mosque "was set on fire 44 years ago by criminal hands... in collusion with the criminal occupation."
- The Palestinian National Council (PNC), the legislative body of the PLO, which referred to "the crime committed by the occupation in setting fire to [the] Al-Aqsa [Mosque]."
- The official PA daily, which accused "Israeli authorities" of the arson and of attempting "to the present day... to harm the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
- Official PA TV, which claimed that "one of the Jews set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that it would go up in flames."
Using events at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to promote religious hatred has been an effective PA weapon in the past. In September 2000, Yasser Arafat sparked the five year PA terror campaign (the second Intifada) by claiming that then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount was an affront to Islam that desecrated the Mosque. Through video clips and sermons, the PA's controlled media sent out a call to respond with terror and violence. That violence lasted five years and left over 5,000 Palestinians and Israelis dead. The PA named the terror campaign the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" because the killing of 1,200 Israelis and Jews, primarily in suicide bombings, was said to be the response for the defilement of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
For this reason, the ongoing libel that "senior Jews of high position" were behind the 1969 arson and the claim that Israel plans to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque are dangerous accusations.
The following are longer excerpts of the PA media reports repeating the libel:
Documentary narrator: "From investigations conducted by the Islamic Council it became clear that there was more than one perpetrator [of the Al-Aqsa Mosque arson in 1969] and that the fire was planned by senior Jews of high position, and that the fire was planned by senior Jews of high position, especially since the roof can only be reached from a wooden spiral staircase located outside the Al-Aqsa building. This proves that careful, premeditated measures were taken to completely destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The proof is that the occupation authorities were slow to extinguish [the fire] and that the water supply to the Sanctuary (i.e., the Temple Mount) had been cut off during those hours."