Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Incident in July 2017: Affirming the Policy of Deterrence


Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 3, 2017

On the eve of the British invasion of Palestine in 1917, the issue of the holy sites in Jerusalem, particularly al-Aqsa Mosque, was raised. It was the first time a non-Muslim power would control the holy city of Jerusalem and its holy sites since the end of the Crusades. This also came alongside the Balfour Declaration, which promised to assist in establishing a Jewish state in the majority-Muslim-inhabited Palestine. The sensitivity of al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims was at that time a major challenge for the British authorities. Perhaps this was the reason why Britain initially did not oppose the formation of the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem in 1921.

However, the following events that took place in Jerusalem showed to what extent the case of the holy sites in Jerusalem, particularly al-Aqsa Mosque, could be inflammable. In April 1920, the first ever Palestinian uprising against the British mandate erupted. It was a result of Jewish harassment of Muslims celebrating a Muslim festival, known as Nabī Mūsā (Prophet Moses). 1929 marked one of the largest Palestinian uprisings against the British mandate, known as the al-Buraq Revolution. It erupted as a direct result of a Jewish attempt to change the status quo in al-Buraq Wall (usually referred to as the Western Wall/Wailing Wall in western writings). This uprising witnessed riots all over Palestine with hundreds of casualties on both sides. It only ended when a special committee, formed by the League of Nation in 1930, studied claims to the wall by both Muslims and Jews. The committee issued its report in 1931 assuring that “to the Muslims belong the sole ownership of, and the sole proprietary right to, the Western Wall.”

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