An Israeli organisation’s plans to build a synagogue in the heart of the Al Aqsa compound in occupied Jerusalem should be a wakeup call for the international community and the Muslim world that Israel is intent on taking advantage of the diversion of attention away from it to cleanse the Holy City of its Muslim and Arab character. The Al Aqsa compound is the only area of the Holy City that remains outside the control of the colonial regime in Israel. It is incumbent on the Jordanian government, whose Waqf is in charge of the site, to step in and take action before it is too late. The Israelis have already been digging under the mosque, going 18 metres deep to accommodate 5,000 people in the excavated areas, with plans to build an underground city there by 2050 — thereby weakening the foundations of the mosque.
There is little doubt that the regional turmoil benefits Israel by diverting attention away from its policies of Judaising occupied Jerusalem and onto the bloodshed in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere. Meanwhile, coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is confined to the latest round of the often futile and redundant meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials as part of a long overdue peace process.
Muslims and Arabs should remember that attacks have been planned to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque by Zionist groups before and many continue to aspire to destroy the mosque today. The longer our attention is diverted away from occupied Jerusalem, the more likely it becomes that a day will come when Islam’s third holiest site will be reduced to rubble.