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Uri Avnery in his apartment in Tel Aviv

A historic photo taken in 1967 of the IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren blowing the shofar at the Western Wall as it comes under Jewish rule for the first time in 2000 years. What is not as well known is that after the Israelis capturing the Temple Mount in 1967, Rabbi Goren wanted to blow up the Dome of the Rock in order to prepare for the building of the Third Temple.

Special Report: Hamas and I on the Temple Mount

by Rhonda Spivak, written January 31, 2014, posted Feb 25, 2014

On January 21, 2014 when Prime Minister Harper was in Jerusalem, I  went up to see  the  Dome of the Rock  and the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.


Three days later on January 24, 2014 , the Hebrew daily Ma'ariv ran an article indicating that PA President Abbas would be  making great efforts  in 2014 to bring thousands of Muslim tourists from Europe to the Temple Mount, and Al Aqsa Mosque, as a means of strengthening  the notion of Palestinian control over the Temple Mount in international consciousness.


Four days later on January 28, 2014 the Israeli Shin Bet (security agency) and the Israeli Police arrested 16 east Jerusalem Arabs on suspicion of belonging to a Hamas cell operating on the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem.


The Shin Bet said that while investigating the cell they found that the Islamic Movement was operating educational courses on the Temple Mount and paying people to maintain a presence there, in order to “increase the tension and cause disturbances, especially during Jewish holidays.” They added that the courses were a major contributing factor to recent disturbances in the vicinity of the Mount.


The Shin Bet added that the study program was being operated in line with Hamas directives, citing an online video showing Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh praising the study program and saying that his organization is funding it.


The importance of the news of a Hamas cell operating on the Temple Mount cannot be underestimated, especially as Secretary of State John Kerry tries to sell his peace plan here. That peace plan will ultimately  call for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, no doubt with special arrangements for the Old City where the Temple Mount will not be under Israeli sovereignty. (In 2008 Israeli media reported that former Israeli Prime Minister  Ehud Olmert essentially agreed to forgo sovereignty of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,  and proposed that in the framework of a peace agreement, the area containing the religious sites in Jerusalem would be managed by a special committee consisting of representatives from five nations: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the United States and Israel.)


Most Israelis I know are very leery about the idea of dividing Jerusalem in any agreement with the PA President Abbas, (whose electoral mandate expired a long time ago) only to find out that once they do Hamas takes over the West Bank. The revelation that Hamas has been expanding its operations on the Temple Mount is only likely to make Israelis more concerned of entering an agreement, which could result in Hamas taking over the Temple Mount (Needless to say, if Hamas controlled the Temple Mount, it likely wouldn't be too safe for Jews to pray at the Western Wall without being shot at.)  I would suggest it's very possible that PA President Abbas has known about the Hamas cell's activity on the Mount, but is not terribly interested in stopping it or is unable to stop it.    (See Ron Ben-Yishai in Ynet News on how since the departure of Salam Fayad from the stage, the PA has been less able or willing to control terror in the West Bank,7340,L-4481788,00.html ).


Had I known about the presence of the Hamas cell on the Temple Mount, I probably wouldn't have gone up there at all. I had not been there since 1986, a time when the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf , which  controls the site, still allowed Jews to enter the Dome. This is no longer the case, since the time when  Ariel Sharon came up to the Temple Mount  before the Second Intifada , according to my guide Majid, "whose family has lived in Jerusalem for 900 years".  If truth be known, Majid, who was hanging around the Temple Mount, (where according to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the patriarch Abraham is believed to have made an altar to sacrifice his son Isaac) was not much of a guide. He stopped my tour in the middle leaving me outside the Dome rather suddenly in order to guide a Muslim tourist through the Dome.  As soon as I got to the  Temple Mount Majid had approached me asking to be my guide.I had decided that it was better to give him 50 shekel to have him take me around, than risk any confrontation with him by saying no. It was a small price to pay. I am now wondering if he possibly was a Hamas operative?

As Oded, (an Israeli guide I also met  on the site )  explained it is noteworthy that after 1967 when Israel captured the Temple Mount, then Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan decided to allow the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf to control the site.  "This is the only time in history where a people (the Jews) captured the site holiest to their religion, and actually returned it to the control of others. This is unprecedented in history."  


 Uri Avinery, a 90 year old veteran left-wing Israeli journalist and peace activist  who has long  advocated Israel returning to the 1967 lines recalled in a recent interview I had with him, "When Moshe Dayan got up to the Temple Mount in  1967  there was already an Israeli flag flying on it. Dayan ordered the Israeli flag to be taken down from the Temple Mount." He did so in order not to cause any unnecessary provocation, said Avinery, who clearly agreeing with Dayan's decision.


Given Dayan's decision to give the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf control of the Temple Mount after the Six Day war, it's rather ironic that some three months later  the Rabbi who married Dayan's daughter Yael to colonel Dov Sion was the IDF Chief Rabbi  General Shlomo Goren. Goren wanted to blow up the Dome of the Rock on June 7, 1967, in order to bring about the building of the Third Jewish Temple. This sensational bit of history is recorded by Israeli historian Tom Segev,  quoting Gen. Uzi Narkis, who in 1967 was head of the IDF’s Central Command and thus in charge of Jerusalem area operations. Goren told Narkis that this was the moment to blow up the Dome of the Rock, asking him to place 100 kg. of dynamite in the Dome . “Do this and you will go down in history,” Goren said, and explained that such a thing could only be done under cover of war: “Tomorrow might be too late.” Narkis threatened to throw the rabbi in jail if he did not drop the idea. There is even a rare image of  Rabbi  Shlomo Goren inside the Dome of the Rock, June 7, 1967 discovered in IDF archives only in 2006; the film had been censored and was never released.  The interview that Segev had with Narkis  was published in Haaretz newspaper on December 31, 1997.


It is a relatively little known fact that as the Israeli Army moved closer to taking over the Old City in the Six Day War, then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol wanted  the administration of that holy site to fall to a committee filled equally by Muslim, Christian and Jewish clerics,  such that everyone would have the right to be atop the mount and pray at this holy site for three faiths. The Dome of the Rock would not have been touched, but all faiths would be allowed up on top of the mount.


Eshkol however was unable to execute his dream of a multi-faith council to run the compound.  Dayan didn't consult the Prime Minister or the Knesset, and handed the keys back to the Islamic Waqf because he wanted to make sure that there wouldn't be  the slightest  possibility of a Third Temple.  Given Dayan's status as a war hero, there was nothing Eshkol could do about it, and his dream fell by the wayside.


Oded, the Israeli guide, told his tour group that as time has gone on more Israelis have begun to question Dayan's judgment  in giving the Waqf  untrammeled control of the Mount, following the  Waqf's unilateral construction of a mosque at an underground area of the Temple Mount  known as Solomon's Stables. Following this, Waqf officials discarded more than 10,000 tons of rubble with history-rich artifacts at a municipal garbage dump in the Kidron Valley.  This was called "an unprecedented archaeological crime" by the head of Israel's Antiquities Authority, and since then Israeli archeologists have begun to sift through the dirt from the Mount.

My children participated in the Temple mount Sifting Project two summers ago for a half day, and my son found an item that was given to the archeologist on site for registration.


Update: Feb 25, 2014-There were clashes today on the Temple Mount in which Israeli police were pelted with rocks by  Palestinians. Tensions have risen recently in light of the  upcoming debate in the Knesset on  "the loss of Israeli sovereignity on the Temple mount" initiated by right-wing lawmaker MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud).

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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