Violence between Israelis and Palestinians is nothing new, but a recent surge in violence has left at least 15 people dead, including three members of a Jewish family murdered in their own home.
On July 14th, three armed Muslims exited the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem armed with guns and knives. They killed two Israeli police officers who were guarding the area, which happens to be the holiest site in Jerusalem for both Jews and Muslims.
The Israeli government responded by installing metal detectors outside the mosque compound, enraging the Palestinian Muslims. The metal detectors have now been removed, but the surge in violence over the last two weeks has had tragic consequences for many people, like the Salomon family.
Omar al-Abed made what he expected to be his final Facebook post this past Friday, July 21st. “All I have is a sharpened knife and it answers the call of al-Aqsa,” he wrote. In Abed’s long rant he promised to die a martyr and called Jews “pigs and monkeys”.
After posting his diatribe on Facebook, Abed left his house in the West Bank and walked to a nearby Jewish settlement where he climbed over a fence and knocked on the door of the Salomon family. He stabbed three members of the family to death before a nearby off-duty soldier shot and wounded him. Abed is now in the custody of Israeli authorities.
The violence between the Palestinian Muslims and the Israeli Jews stems from the fact that they both claim God-given rights to the same land. The Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque are among the holiest sites in all of Islam, and they happen to exist on the same hill that the Jews recognize as the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism. The incompatibility of these two religions and their claims to these areas has produced nothing but unending violence.
Abed was majoring in business administration at college, but will either be put to death or rot in prison. The Salomon family was gathered to celebrate the birth of a grandson, and instead buried three of their family members who were butchered in their own home.
When the late Christopher Hitchens wrote his book God is Not Great he continually made the case for how “religion poisons everything”. This is the poison at work. At least 12 other people died in the violence that followed the July 14th murder of the two Israeli police officers, but it will not be the last we see of violence between these two groups of people.
“God promised me this!” “No! He promised ME that!” The amount of human energy wasted on this nonsense, and the amount of harm and misery created as a result, is mindbogglingly tragic. Religion poisons everything indeed.