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Orthodox Jewish newspaper asks Arabs to avoid killing Haredi Jews

Oct. 29, 2015 5:20 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 29, 2015 6:12 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – An orthodox Jewish Israeli newspaper Mishpacha published on Thursday an appeal to "potential Palestinian attackers” asking them to avoid killing Haredi Jews on the grounds that the sect does not visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Published both in Hebrew and poor Arabic, the pieces read:“We, the Haredi public, have no interest in going up to the Temple Mount at this time," using the term used in Judaism for the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. "We vehemently oppose doing so. Even more: Jewish law severely proscribes such an act -- on penalty of spiritual excommunication. Therefore you will never see Haredim ascending the mount, with the exception of one single family, acting on its own, which is condemned for the practice."

Many believe that Jewish law forbids entry to the Temple Mount due to a lack of knowledge regarding the exact location of sites holy to Judaism, risking religious transgressions.

The publication emphasized that recent sentiment by right-wing Israelis to change the status quo on the holy site was not shared by the Haredi community.

"So even if you have in your hand solid information about an Israeli desire to change the status quo at the Dome of the Rock -- which is not true, as far as we know -- this has nothing to do with the Haredi public. So please, stop murdering us.”

The Hebrew version of the message starts with explanation to the readers that they shouldn’t panic when they see Arabic text.

“No Islamic hacker has taken over the newspaper’s computers. The strange text that opens this column is not an act of malice, or a misprint. You can relax. You hold in your hands the Mishpacha newspaper, which publishes in Hebrew and will continue to do so. This is simply an appeal to our cousins who live by the sword, rooted in the hope (a frail one, to be sure) that this magazine may find its way to some influential Arab. Here is a translation of our admittedly slightly bizarre appeal.”

The post received strong criticism, according to Hebrew-language news sites, as many Israelis understood the message as legitimizing the killing of Jews who visit Al-Aqsa mosque.

The publication comes after ten Israelis have been killed since the start of the month in attacks by Palestinians.

Over sixty Palestinians have been killed in the same time period.

Tensions around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound contributed to the recent escalation of violence after right-wing Israelis -- some calling for the destruction of the mosque -- made frequent visits to the site during a succession of Jewish holidays.

Increased restrictions on Palestinian access to the holy compound, arrests, and the entrance of Israeli forces inside of the mosque itself raised concerns among Palestinians that Israel was planning to renege on a long-standing agreement on the site.

On Wednesday, a group of Israeli right-wingers entered the compound and attempted to perform prayers after an organization, Return to the Mount, announced that any Jew arrested from the compound for performing prayers would be rewarded 2,000 shekels ($515).

The organization's "Arrest and Win" project was launched Tuesday in opposition to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to maintain the "status quo" at the holy site.

Despite allegations by Palestinian leadership that Netanyahu is changing the status quo, the PM maintains that Israeli policy has not changed and plans to install surveillance cameras in the compound as proof.

Palestinian Member of the Knesset Bassel Ghattas in response said that the move was made with the intention of securing Israeli control over the holy site, as the cameras would be installed and controlled by Israel.

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