update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Islamic Movement inciting anti-Jewish unrest ahead of Rosh Hashanah

Sheikh Kamal Khatib charged the Israeli government with waging a religious war.

The Islamic Movement in Israel's Kamal Khatib arrives at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court after police arrested him for provoking riots on the Temple Mount, Oct. 4, 2009. Photo by Matanya Tausig/Flash90.
The Islamic Movement in Israel's Kamal Khatib arrives at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court after police arrested him for provoking riots on the Temple Mount, Oct. 4, 2009. Photo by Matanya Tausig/Flash90.

The Islamic Movement in Israel, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is upping its efforts to incite anti-Jewish unrest ahead of the High Holiday season, which kicks off this weekend with Rosh Hashanah, JNS has learned.

Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy chairman of the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, on Saturday urged his followers on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to “keep their eyes on Al-Aqsa,” referring to the mosque located atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

“For weeks, in fact for months now, the Jewish religious communities have been calling on and mobilizing people to raid the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque,” declared Khatib in a video filmed on the Temple Mount that was seen by thousands of social media users.

He continued: “They are calling for the demolition of our blessed Al-Aqsa mosque at the beginning of a new Hebrew year. You want to start a new Hebrew year by violating the sanctity of our blessed Al-Aqsa mosque?”

In the recording, Khatib also charged the Israeli government with waging a religious war. “Remain certain and confident that we are closer to liberation, inshallah [God-willing],” he assured Palestinians.

JNS reached out to the Israel Police requesting clarification as to why Khatib is permitted to spread incitement from atop the Temple Mount.

Khatib’s remarks closely resembled rhetoric used by the Hamas terrorist group, the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, with official Haroun Nasser al-Din warning on Sept. 11 that Israel was planning to “exploit the ‘Jewish holidays’ to carry out raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque.” 

This alleged Israeli scheme is “part of the religious war led by the Israeli government on the Palestinian holy sites,” claimed al-Din, while calling on Palestinians to escalate their “resistance.”

Alleged threats to the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest and built on the site of the ancient Jewish Temples, have long been a rallying cry for terrorism. The 1929 Hebron massacre, in which Arabs murdered 67 of their Jewish neighbors, was sparked by false rumors that Jews were planning to take control of the mosque.

More recently, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have turned the Temple Mount issue and the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” slogan into a major engine for inciting Israeli Muslims against the state. The incitement is conducted in the Palestinian education system, mosques, official media and social media.

The Islamic Movement in Israel was founded in 1971. Israel outlawed its Northern Branch in 2015.

“For years, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement has led a mendacious campaign of incitement under the slogan ‘Al-Aqsa is in danger’ that falsely accuses Israel of intending to harm the Al-Aqsa mosque and violate the status quo,” the Security Cabinet, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, explained at the time.

“The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel is undermining the state. It incites violence against innocent people. It has close ties with the Hamas terrorist organization and it seeks to subvert the state in order to establish an Islamic caliphate in its place,” Netanyahu said in 2015.

Khatib was arrested two years ago on suspicion of inciting antisemitic violence at the height of Israel’s May 2021 war (“Operation Guardian of the Walls”) with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which also sparked Arab pogroms throughout the Jewish state.

In 2018, Khatib implicated the Israeli government in causing a series of low-magnitude earthquakes felt in northern Israel and neighboring countries.

“As for the recent earthquakes in northern Palestine, it cannot be ruled out that the occupation is responsible for actions that could cause such earthquakes with the aim of destroying Al-Aqsa and [then claiming], as a pretext, that it was the result of a natural disaster,” he said.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have all designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

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