Why Hamas is selling its assault on Israel as a holy war

by | Oct 17, 2023 | Religion

JERUSALEM (RNS) — When Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian terrorist group, stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, took over military bases, massacred more than 1,300 Israelis — most of them civilians — and kidnapped 150, it dubbed its military operation the “Al-Aqsa Deluge.”  The reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which includes the Dome of the Rock, as well as the smaller Al-Aqsa Mosque, was clearly intended as a rallying cry to unite Muslims by convincing them that their faith is under assault.
Expressions like “Free Al-Aqsa” are intended to galvanize Muslims against non-Muslims, said Shuki Friedman, vice president of the Jewish People Policy Institute and an expert on Islamic law at the Peres Academic Center. They help to unify the world’s nearly 2 billion Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who have been at odds, and sometimes war, for centuries. “What can unite them is the common enemy: Jews and Israel,” said Friedman.
Al-Aqsa, built on top of the remains of the first and second Jewish Temples, is also Judaism’s holiest site, known as the Temple Mount. In the …

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