From the news desk

It almost happened…but it didn't

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It’s interesting how the “almost happened” and “what if” events of a particular era don’t achieve prominence in the news, or even history books. I suppose part of it is a relief that the threatened event – a war, a calamity or a disaster – did not happen.

I thought about this a lot after interviewing Fahi Nunejaat, a spokesperson for the Islamic Movement in 1948 Palestine, last week.

This is because recently, such a “what if”/”almost happened” event unfolded in Palestine. It made a few blips on the radar screen before disappearing.

This was when Palestinian security officials in Jerusalem discovered an Israeli with an assault rifle strapped to his back snooping around the walls of Al-Aqsa in the dark.

What was he doing there?

I would venture to say it certainly wasn’t an innocent midnight stroll.

I can say this because since 1967 Jewish extremists have been trying to attack, and destroy, Al-Aqsa so that the Third Temple can be built in its place. They have tried many times before.

Of course, the small fact that the Third Temple has not been mentioned in any Biblical texts is ignored – and is another emotionally charged issue. Dr Sami Hadawi’s book, “Bitter Harvest”, is quite explicit on this, and he is a Christian who has studied these things.

However, over the years, the fundamentalist crazies have tried their level best to thoroughly debase Islam’s third holiest place of worship.

Their nefarious attempts have become legend: Yehuda Itzione being caught with enough explosives to blast the Dome of the Rock into the neighbouring Kidron Valley; armed Gush Emunim settler fanatics caught climbing the walls of Al-Aqsa; Denis Rohan setting the mosque alight in 1969; Gershon Salamon’s attempts to breach the Haram’s walls; Ariel Sharon’s infamous pilgrimage of 2000, and last but not least, the insidious, unseen tunnelers who have been digging away under the Noble Sanctuary for decades.

I could go on and on. I sometimes think it’s a miracle that Al-Aqsa has survived.

But what was so ominous about the most recent incident was that the extremist (un-named) reminded me of Dr Barusch Goldstein, a settler-emigre from the US who snuck into Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque during Ramadan in 1994 and gunned down 29 worshippers in their prayer.

Goldstein’s calculated, murderous insanity sparked-off the era of the suicide bomber and finally destroyed Oslo (which was his intent).

In 2009 I just shudder to think what could have happened had this Jewish extremist tried to emulate Goldstein at Al-Aqsa.

With tolerance for Israel fast running out after Gaza, I predict there would have been an upwelling of Arab and Muslim street anger, the likes of which would have been difficult to control.

It would have made the Intifadah look like a picnic. The streets of Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Teheran. Amman, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza City would have literally boiled over.

Regimes, ironically the Israeli-friendly ones, would have been violently threatened, and a blast of unsavoury anti-Semitism would have circulated around the globe faster than a nuclear mushroom cloud.

Thank God this latest attacker – who won’t be the last – was caught in time, yet another “what if”/”almost happened” moment averted, alhamdulillah.

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