Sunday, Aug. 21, was a tough day for the communities on the Gaza periphery. Sirens sounded in Ashkelon and Beersheba as well. Grad and Qassam rockets left destruction and traumatized people in their wake, and residents were told to remain in protected areas. While most of the media attention was directed southward, at the same time, police and soldiers in Jerusalem were in a race against time, trying to capture Qawasmeh, 20, a would-be suicide terrorist from Hebron who, according to intelligence, was on his way to Pisgat Zeev.
The bomb that Qawasmeh was supposed to use had been captured 24 hours earlier. It comprised a sprinkler filled with 6 kilograms of explosives, with ball bearings glued around it. Azhak Arrafa, a resident of east Jerusalem who was supposed to transport Qawasme to his destination, was the one who led the police officers and the security services to the bomb, which had been hidden near his home in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood.
Security officials did not know whether Qawasme was carrying additional explosives on his person. A nerve-wracking 24 hours passed. It seemed that the earth had swallowed Qawasmeh. In the end, one long-time detective guessed that Qawasme was hiding inside a mosque, perhaps even the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. He based his guess on past experience: Over the years, there had been several incidents in which mosques in general, and the mosques on the Temple Mount in particular, have served as hideouts in which terrorists who had perpetrated attacks, or were about to carry them out, met, organized or hid.
The last connection to the Temple Mount that the detective remembered had to do with two terrorists who had allegedly planned to fire a rocket at Teddy Stadium during a Betar Jerusalem game. (One of them has since been tried and convicted, and the other’s trial is still in progress.} According to the Shin Bet, the two men served as Hamas’ representatives on the Temple Mount and were employed there at high salaries for three years. In Qawasmeh’s case, the shot in the dark proved accurate. He was indeed hiding on the Temple Mount and even stayed there overnight. He was captured the next morning near the Al-Aqsa Mosque thanks to intelligence that came from the Temple Mount.
How dare the Israelis enter such a holy spot - to stop a man from his holy mission? It is simply islamophobic.