Two catalysts appear to be driving the latest "leaderless" Palestinian uprising against Israel: growing religious tensions in Jerusalem's Old City and calls for violence on Palestinian media channels.
Palestinians fear that Israeli authorities will permit Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, or Haram al Sharif to the Palestinians, in Jerusalem. At the same time, say Israeli authorities, relentless messages in official Palestinian media outlets
supervised by Mahmoud Abbas are calling for the destruction of Israel.
Convinced Muslim shrines are in imminent danger, individual Palestinians like 18-year-old Sawsan Abu Hashieh have heeded calls to defend the Muslim holy place. On Monday he stabbed and killed an off-duty soldier near a busy Tel Aviv train station.
Hashieh's Facebook page showed him holding a sign that read: "We are people who love death while our enemies love life," The New York Times
Israel ceded day-to-day oversight of the mount, where Sunni Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven in 632, to Islamic religious authorities days after capturing the compound from Jordan in the 1967 war.
Successive Israeli governments have maintained a policy prohibiting Jewish worship on the mount — though allowing tourists to visit — so as not to inflame Muslim sensibilities, according to Shmuel Rosner
writing in the Times.
But Palestinians have taken to heart the desires of a small group of Jewish fanatics who want to construct a third temple at the site where the two temples of
Biblical times once stood.
Warning that Israelis would face a "devastating religious war," Abbas told a memorial rally in memory of Yasser Arafat that he will not permit the Jews to "contaminate" the mount, according to the Times.
"Keep the settlers and the extremists away from al-Aksa and our holy places," Abbas said.
He went on to say, "No one will accept that Jerusalem is the capital of anything but the state of Palestine," according to the Times of Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that he does not intend to change the status quo and accused Abbas of purposefully "inflaming" the situation, according to the New York Times.
Israeli experts maintain that steady drum-beating by Palestinian leaders and Muslim clergy that Jews are an alien presence in the Middle East helps stoke the violence, The Jerusalem Post
Arab social media is also feeding the uprising with songs and cartoons calling on Palestinians to use vehicles to "Run Over the Settler,"
according to the Times. Official Palestinian media inculcates the idea that all Israelis are settlers
and all of Palestine is occupied.
Israeli authorities have been struggling to come up with an answer to the seemingly random violence which has taken six Israeli lives in the last month.
"Someone gets up in the morning, goes out of the mosque at noon, and says, 'Today I will kill some Israelis' — no organization behind it, he doesn't have to prepare himself, he can take the knife from his kitchen," said Yaakov Amidror, an Israeli security analyst, told the New York Times.
"There is no stage where intelligence can intervene and stop it," the Times reported.
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