Western media continue to distort Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque

by Robert Inlakesh, published on The Struggle / La Lucha, April 8, 2023

The popular outrage and response from the Resistance factions to the Israeli assaults on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque have again been distorted by Western media, in an attempt to try and pin the blame on the response. The framing of what occurred at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is vital, as this is how the Zionist entity and its Western backers seek to begin their pro-“Israel” narrative.

Before we get into what happened in Al-Aqsa Mosque, perhaps the best way to approach this for a Western audience is to imagine the scenario as follows: A militarized force stormed the Vatican, during Easter, with the aim of purging Christian worshippers so that radicals from another faith background could storm the site under the protection of armed police forces. The militarized force broke through the doors of one of the churches, where some younger Christians had gathered fireworks to attempt to keep the militarized force out. The armed men then entered the church, fired gas and stun grenades, and caused a small fire to break out before beating Christian worshippers who were already on the ground and helpless. This militarized force beat women, guards at the Vatican, and even elderly men, then proceeded to return to the Vatican later to assault Christian worshippers during prayer.

The situation above would not take a genius in the West to figure out who was in the wrong. It would also be ridiculous to suggest that some young Christians who used fireworks to keep their attackers out were the real instigators, and the situation would never be presented as a “clash”. Yet, when it comes to the Western media’s coverage of anything involving “Israel”, somehow, all professionalism, journalistic integrity, and consideration for the facts simply go out of the window. In Ramadan of 2021, in the lead-up to the Israeli war of May, the Western media distorted the facts then too.

In fact, it would be fair to say that if such an assault on worshippers at a Holy Site was to take place during a religious holiday, there would not be any issues for Western media to at least use accurate language to frame the event.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is in the heart of every Muslim and all Palestinians, and it has become a symbol of Arab and Islamic civilization, not to mention it being the third Holiest site in Islam. This is the location where Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) ascended to the heavens, to where the first Muslims directed their prayer. When the site is attacked by a regime, which, under international law, maintains an illegal occupation over the eastern part of Al-Quds, where the site is located, it provokes some of the most intense emotional reactions possible.

Legally, the Zionist entity has no right to any of the occupied eastern part of Al-Quds, which they “annexed,” a decision that was rejected by the international community. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan also holds custodianship over the Holy sites in the Old City of occupied Al-Quds, which gives it the right to maintain the security situation within Al-Aqsa compound itself. The status quo at the site is that there are special tourist hours, where anyone can enter the compound, but the site is for Muslim worship alone, so all talk from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about his intention to maintain the status quo are sheer lies. The aim of the Israeli regime is to allow for special hours where extremist Israeli settlers will be escorted inside the compound and are given the ability to freely worship and perform provocative acts whilst this occurs… this is a change to the status quo.

The act of extremist religious settlers praying inside Al-Aqsa compound is used as a sticking point in Zionist propaganda, which they use as a pretext to argue that since the site is also Holy in Judaism, they should be able to pray there. The reality is something very different however, this is not about a prayer; it is about asserting Israeli sovereignty over the area, and for the “Temple Mount” movement that finances the settler incursion movement, they openly seek to build what they call the “Third Temple,” meaning that they want to destroy Al-Aqsa and build a synagogue on top of it. There is a split in the Jewish religious traditions on the issue of whether a Jew should even enter the site, which many Jewish religious authorities rule as forbidden. It is believed by many Jews that the remains of what they believe to have been a synagogue at the site only remain at the “Western Wall” area. This site was once of insignificance except for a small number of Jews who would pray there on religious holidays. In the 1920s, the Zionist movement began focusing its efforts on seizing this area, which caused a number of revolts from the Palestinians, culminating in the largest in 1929, sparked by fears that the Zionist movement would go further and was threatening to lay claim to Al-Aqsa.

Today the issue is clear, this extremist group of settler organizations, which receive funding from registered charitable organizations in the West, most prominently in the United States, seek the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as their ultimate goal. On top of this, the Zionist entity continues to assault, kill, arrest, and harass worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Just a week ago, a man from Al-Naqab was shot dead near one of the gates to the compound. Inside “Israel’s” current coalition, holding ministerial positions, are West Bank settlers like Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who have openly participated in storming Al-Aqsa with the settler groups. So these extremists are not fringe, they are in the mainstream.

When the initial response to these assaults on worshippers, which resulted in around 400 injured or arrested, or both, the Western media went on to report on the issue of rocket fire from Gaza as a “border exchange.” This is also a key sticking point in Zionist propaganda, which frames exchanges of fire between the resistance in Gaza and “Israel” as occurring across a “border” when no such border exists. Along with “Tel Aviv” never having officially declared its borders, Gaza is an occupied territory, it is not a state. There are separation fences and walls built by the Zionist regime to divide the two pieces of land from each other. Therefore, there is nothing that can be legally claimed as a border. This language is used, despite “Israel” not officially declaring this as a border, because it gives them the excuse to pretend that they have the legal right to defend an internationally recognized boundary. Western media, by using this term, are actively playing into Israeli propaganda.

The starting point, when looking at the current escalation over the assault on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, has to be rooted in an understanding of how serious such an attack is. When the West protects “Israel’s” so-called “right to defend itself” but then condemns the people of the region for reacting to an Islamaphobic attack on a Holy site during Ramadan, which is supposed to be under the custodianship of an Arab nation, there is a double-standard at play. The Palestinian people have a right to defend themselves, they have a right to defend their national sanctities, and the Muslim and Arab World has the right to protect its Holy sites.

Originally published in Al Mayadeen

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