By Ramzy Baroud
The recent sealing of a very small window on the western side of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli soldiers is an indication of the ever-continuing legacy of Israeli oppression and ruthlessness.
The small window, which is over 800 years old, was reopened so that light and air would protect the Mosque from growing mold. For Israel however, the opening of the window, somehow became "a threat to the security of the state of Israel."
Even though such an act is a symbol of Israel's consistent attack on everything held dear by Muslims and Palestinians, it also shows how little control, if any, Palestinians have obtained following several years of "peace talks."
If years of negotiations and hundreds of signed papers accompanied by uncountable smiles and handshakes have failed to give Palestinians the liberty to open a tiny window in their own Mosque, then Palestinians have truly gained nothing.
Israel, on the other hand, is sending a message through such devious acts, telling Palestinians that anything located within the borders of Jerusalem is an Israeli affair, even the Aqsa Mosque itself.
Sheik Iqrimah Sabri, the Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, recently
claimed (while commenting on the closure of the small window) that Israel is secretly mining under the ancient Aqsa Mosque, using modern equipment. But why does Israel insist on assaulting and degrading Islamic Mosques, graveyards and other symbols of faith?
The answer is that Israel realizes the significance of the Islamic identity in the Palestinian struggle. This identity is a unifying force to those who fought, were imprisoned and fell martyrs throughout the years for the sake of Palestine. During the Palestinian uprising of 1987-1993, the Mosque was considered the to be school wherein the resistance was initiated.
Therefore, in order to eliminate the influence of this spiritual identity, the Israeli government has taken it upon itself to burden the lives of those associated with that spirit with never ending hardship. Yet Islam for Palestinians has always been similar to a battle flag which the enemy cannot bring down or burn.
What Israel has always failed to understand, is that burning Mosques, destroying graveyards and closing windows can never eliminate the growth and greatening of faith in the hearts of the faithful. In fact, such acts ignite the desire to defend and sacrifice for these beloved holy sites, rather than abandon and neglect deep-rooted values.
While waves of anger resound world wide when a Jewish monument or graveyard is disgraced, Israel's routine humiliation of Islamic sites gets little or no reaction. Yet, with their simple means of resistance and acts of defiance, Palestinians gather every time Israel commits one of its horrifying acts, to chant and protest.
Last Tuesday, scores of Palestinians, youth and elders, sat in silence for hours near Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem to express their anger over the expected Israeli confiscation of the Mosque and the land surrounding it. Most likely, the Mosque, like many others in the past, will be confiscated and destroyed.
Demolishing Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque, like closing the Aqsa Mosque's windows, might represent, for the militant Israeli government, another victory over Palestinians in their ongoing battle of resistance. But the threat of confiscation that brought hundreds of Palestinians together protesting and gently praying on the threatened land, was the proof that faith remains in the hearts of the faithful, even if the Mosque itself is destroyed.
If Palestinians and Muslims have ever overlooked the importance of Islamic values in their fight for the liberation of Palestine, these never-ending Israeli acts against the holy places should always be a reminder.