Is Netanyahoo (Again) Looking for War?

Israel’s occupation of Palestine is moving towards another hot conflict.

Last night the Israeli police again stormed the al-Aqsa mosque:

More Palestinians had gathered in the mosque, responding to calls by Waqf to pray inside overnight. At one of the mosque entrances, police officers could be seen escorting dozens of Palestinians out of the compound. Residents and shoppers milled around, watching social media videos on their phones showing the renewed clashes that had happened just meters away.Early on Wednesday, Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, firing stun grenades at Palestinians who hurled stones and firecrackers in a burst of violence during a sensitive holiday season. Palestinian militants in Gaza responded with rocket fire on southern Israel, prompting repeated Israeli airstrikes.

The violence had calmed by early Wednesday morning, but in the evening, Palestinian militants fired two more rockets from Gaza, with one falling short inside Gaza and the other falling near the security fence separating Gaza from Israel, the Israeli military said. There were no reports of casualties.

The mosque sits in a hilltop compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and conflicting claims over it have spilled into violence before, including a bloody 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. Al-Aqsa is the third-holiest site in Islam and stands in a spot known to Jews as the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism.

Muslims currently celebrate their Ramadan holy month while Jews began their week-long Passover holiday. Last week some ultra-orthodox rabbis had asked prime minister Netanyahoo to allow them to abuse Al-Aqsa:

Fifteen rabbis have asked the Israeli government on Thursday to ascend the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif next Wednesday, when the Jewish holiday of Passover begins, a move that could exacerbate tensions in Jerusalem during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan.The rabbis have put a request to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Thursday to ascend to the Temple Mount and for Jews to be allowed to offer the Passover, the way it was practiced in biblical times.

Over the years, a majority of rabbis has ruled that Jews are not allowed to ascend the Temple Mount site, since purification rituals cannot be performed in times when the temple is destroyed. Most rabbis also object to reviving biblical sacrifices of lambs or goats. Still, far-right religious activists have registered a clear trend in recent years of an increase in the number of Jews ascending the Temple Mount compound.

It is dubious that the place where Al-Aqsa is standing is the one where the mythical Jewish temple once stood. Despite intense decades long searches no archeological evidence has been found to prove that.

The Waqf, the authority that administrates the al-Haram al-Sharif, had called for Muslim believers to stay there over night to prevent the sacrilege against the Mosque. In response to the first raid on the mosque earlier this week some rockets had been fired from Gaza to which the Israeli military responded with bombings.

Today missiles were fired from south Lebanon:

Dozens of rockets were fired from southern Lebanon on Thursday afternoon with 25 intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system over northern Israel, the military said. At least three people were injured and several buildings were damaged.The Israel Defense Forces said 34 rockets had been fired toward the border with five landing inside Israel, and most of the rest downed by Iron Dome. The impact sites of four others were not yet clear.

Such a massive barrage would this the largest number of rockets fired from Lebanon since the 2006 war, during which thousands of rockets were launched at Israel. In August 2021, Hezbollah fired 19 rockets at northern Israel.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and a Hezbollah source told the Al-Arabiya network that it was not behind the rocket fire, apparently blaming Palestinian groups based in the area. However, it was unlikely they would do so without at least the tacit approval of the Iran-backed terror group that controls southern Lebanon.

This was indeed a message from Hizbullah.

Amal Saad @amalsaad_lb – 14:08 UTC · Apr 6, 2023The unprecedented barrage of rockets fired at Israel today, allegedly by Palestinian factions in Lebanon, was an indirect message from Hizbullah. Nasrallah had warned as recently as January 2023 that Al-Aqsa was a red line that would lead to an “explosion of the whole region” 1/2
Hizbullah is trying to stretch the rules of deterrence with a new equation: violating al-Aqsa will trigger responses not just from Gaza but also from Lebanon. Hizbullah is responding by proxy with grey zone warfare to preserve the rules of engagement and avert an escalation. 2/2

It is not yet clear that a escalation can be prevented. Currently the Israeli security cabinet is meeting. United Nations peacekeepers (UNIFIL) in south Lebanon have allegedly received orders to enter their bomb shelters. UNIFIl called the called the situation “extremely serious”.

Netanyahoo and his ultra-right coalition partners might be interested in launching a new war to divert from their attempts to change the secular state of Israel into a religious led one. Large color-revolution like protests have been held against that and Netanyahoo’s project of putting (secular) supreme court judgments under (religious led) parliament revision is currently on hold.

A ‘nice little war’ might be a welcome distraction and a way to silently revive the matter. But the 2006 war against Hizbullah, which Israel lost, showed that nice little wars can easily turn against their instigators.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.