Is Palestinian Terrorism Driven by Poverty or the Need to Defend the al-Aqsa Mosque?

poverty and holy sites - featured image 300 x 300

We often hear that ‘Palestinians’ are driven to terrorism by poverty and deprivation or a necessity to defend Islamic holy sites such as the al-Aqsa mosque from Israelis.  Is this true?

Are Palestinian terrorists driven by poverty and deprivation?

The terrorist who murdered 13 1/2 year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, stabbing her repeatedly in the back while she slept in her bed was not living in misery and deprivation. This is his family’s home located in Beni Naim, east of Hebron.

home of murderer of Hallel Ariel

No, Mohammed Tarayra didn’t murder 13 1/2 year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel because he was driven by poverty and desperation. He acted on what he had been taught by his leaders, encouraged by his parents and motivated by the media to do – to hate Jews.

In writing an article for the Gatestone Institute this past October, Bassam Tawil, an Arab scholar living in the Middle East had the opportunity to visit the homes of some of the Palestinian terrorists and had this to say;

“What I saw — what you or anyone could see during these visits — was that none of these Palestinians had suffered harsh lives. Their living conditions were anything but miserable. In fact, these murderers had been leading comfortable lives, with unlimited access to education and work.

Bassam Tawil noted;

Four of the terrorists came from Jerusalem and held Israeli ID cards that allowed them to travel freely inside Israel and own and drive vehicles with Israeli license plates. They were also entitled to the social welfare benefits and free healthcare granted to all Israeli citizens. They all lived in houses owned by their familiescarried smartphone and had unlimited access to the internet.

Tawil elaborated on a few of the terrorists;

Muhannad Halabi
Muhannad Halabi

He said that the father of Muhannad Halabi who murdered two Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem last October;

“is a businessman who deals in air-conditioning systems and has his own business in Ramallah. The family’s house, in the village of Surda on the northern outskirts of Ramallah, looks as if it came out of a movie filmed in San Diego.”

Muhannad Halabi’s relatives said that he was “a spoiled boy who had gotten everything he asked for“. He had been studying law at Al-Quds University near Jerusalem.

“The case of Shuruq Dweyat, an 18-year-old female student from the Tsur Baher village in Jerusalem is not really different from that of Muhannad Halabi.”

“She was studying history and geography at Bethlehem University, to which she travelled four times a week from her home.”

Shuruq Dweyat
Shuruq Dweyat

“Photos Shuruq posted on social media show a happy woman who never stopped smiling and posing for “selfies.” She has her own smartphone. Her family, like those of all the other terrorists, own their own house and lead an extremely comfortable life. The Israeli ID card Shuruq holds allows her to go to any place inside Israel at any time.”


Fadi Alloun
Fadi Alloun

“If you had met 19-year-old Fadi Alloun, you would have seen possibly the most handsome man in Jerusalem. Fadi, who came from Issawiyeh in Jerusalem, had also been enjoying a good life under Israel’s administration. He too had an Israeli ID card and was able to travel freely throughout the country. His family told me that he had loved going to shopping malls in Israel to buy clothes from chain stores such as Zara, Renuar, Castro. With his snazzy clothes and sunglasses, he looked like more like an Italian fashion model than your average terrorist. He, too, had unlimited access to the Internet and his family owned their own house.”

Of the others, Tawil says;

“The other young men and women who have carried out the current wave of terror attacks were also leading good lives; some had jobs inside Israel, in part thanks to their Israeli ID cards. Those who came from the West Bank were able to bypass checkpoints and the security barrier, just as thousands of other Palestinian laborers do, who cross into Israel every day in search of work and better lives.”

Still, their luxuries did not stop them from setting out to murder Jews.”

No, 17 year old Mohammed Tarayra did not murder Hallel-Yaffa because of poverty and deprivation but because by killing a Jew, he would be labelled a “Shahid” — a martyr, for doing so.

In a video clip posted on Palestinian social media pages, the mother of Mohammed Tarayra, Hallel Ariel’s murderer said:

My son died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise be to God, he is united with the martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. God willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine.”

mother of Hallel's murderer

Murdering a 13 1/2 year old girl while she sleeps in her bed or mowing down a father of 10 in front of his wife and children (which occurred a day after Hallel’s murder) has nothing to do with Islamic holy sites, such as the al-Aqsa mosque.  It has to do with hatred of Jews – fed to children like Pablum.

Note: The Dome of the Rock is the gold domed structure located on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque, also called "the furthest mosque", is a different structure. The al-Aqsa Mosque* was completed in 705 CE, completely destroyed by an earthquake in 746 CE and rebuilt in 754 CE and is considered the 3rd holiest site in Islam because it is believed the Islamic prophet was transported there from Mecca in a night journey. It is however, not the "al-Asqa mosque" mentioned in the Qu'uran. 

*The "al-Aqsa Mosque" is mentioned only once in the Qu'uran (al-Israa, Chapter 17,verse 1) and Early Islamic sources state that it is one of two mosques located near Ji'irrana, a village located between Mecca and Taaf in the Arabian Peninsula (now Saudi Arabia).  One of the two mosques was called "al-Masjid al-Adna" - meaning the "closer mosque" and the other mosque was called " al-Masjid al-Aqsa" - or the "farther mosque." When the Qu'uran refers to the al Aqsa mosque while telling the story of the prophet night time journey from the "holy mosque" of Mecca to al Aqsa, it is the "farther mosque" in Ji'irrana that it is referring to.

[The real al Aqsa Mosque is not in Jerusalem]

The al-Aqsa Libel

This lie that Israel is attempting to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque (sometimes referred to as “the al-Aqsa libel”) has been used to incite violence against Israelis since the days of Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization and included such false claims that Israel was behind a mosque fire there in 1969. Current renditions of this lie include that Israel is currently digging under the mosque in order to topple it, that Israel plans to demolish the al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with the 3rd Temple, and others. None of these are true.

Both Fatah and Hamas have generated and sustained religious hatred of Jews by continuing to spread the lie that Israel is attempting to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque. Since most ‘Palestinians’ identify themselves as practicing Muslims and the al-Aqsa mosque is Islam’s 3rd holiest site, this lie is highly inflammatory and is often combined with the call to “defend al-Aqsa” from the Jews.

It ought to be clearly understood that Jews cannot possibly “defile” the al-Aqsa mosque as they are not allowed in it, or even near it.  In fact, many Orthodox Jews will avoid the Temple Mount complex entirely, lest they accidentally set foot over where the Holy of Holies once stood.  Jews do not enter either the Dome of the Rock or al-Aqsa mosque and are forbidden by the Jordanian Wafq who control the Temple Mount from praying anywhere on the Temple Mount complex. Jews are frequently arrested if they are seen moving their lips in what looks like it may be a prayer and men have been arrested while ‘swaying’, even when it’s to comfort a crying baby.  Nevertheless, the ‘Palestinian’ authorities continue to spread lies that Jews and Israeli “settlers” are defiling the al-Aqsa mosque.

Just before the start of Ramadan in June, the PLO Department for Jerusalem Affairs warned Israel against the consequences of “the continued invasion of the al-Aqsa mosque by ‘gangs of settlers’” and encouraged Palestinians to carry out “ribat” (religious conflict / war over land claimed to be Islamic) on the Temple Mount. This is incitement.

“The PLO Department of Jerusalem Affairs warned against the consequences of the continued invasion of the Al-Aqsa Mosque plaza by gangs of settlers…The department called on citizens of all the homeland’s districts and everyone who can to visit the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque during the blessed month of Ramadan in order to pray there, to carry out Ribat in its plaza, and to stand against the settlers’ invasions.

Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 13, 2016

Days later, the same department said;

Israel is taking “daily steps… against the [Al-Aqsa] mosque, which will lead to the ignition of a religious war… by its allowing herds of extreme settlers to defile its pure plaza”.

Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 16, 2016

“the [PA] government called to visit Jerusalem, and for every one of our people who can, to come to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray and carry out Ribat there. Likewise, it called on the Arab and Islamic world to fulfill their responsibility and support the resolve of the [Arab] citizens of Jerusalem who are the defenders of Jerusalem and guardians of its honorable [al-Aqsa] Mosque.

Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 8, 2016

The truth is, there is no threat to the al-Aqsa mosque by Israel and even if there were such a threat (and there isn’t), murdering children in their bed or parents in front of their families has nothing to do with the al-Aqsa mosque or Jerusalem. It has to do with hatred of Jews fueled by the lies that they have been told.

In his article written for the Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil wrote;

“For the terrorists, all Jews are “settlers” and Israel is one big settlement. This is not an intifada — it is just another killing-spree aimed at terrorizing the Jews and forcing them out of this part of the world. It already succeeded in the rest of the Middle East and is now being done there to the Christians as well.

What was his conclusion?

Our conflict with Israel is not about “occupation” or Jerusalem or holy sites or borders. Nor is it about poverty and poor living conditions or walls and fences and checkpoints.This conflict is really about Israel’s very existence in this part of the world. ”

“The terrorists and their supporters are not struggling against a checkpoint or a wall. They want to see Israel destroyed, Jews slaughtered, and the streets of Israel running with Jewish blood.”

This conflict is not about Islamic holy sites or Jerusalem, but about murdering Jews whenever possible.” ~Bassam Tawil


Quotes from Bassam Tawil are from his Gatestone Institute article "What Do Palestinian Terrorists Want?"