The Muslim Brotherhood's leading global voice, Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, called on Muslims Thursday to fight "the greatest battle of liberation" against Israel and the Jews.
In an Arabic message posted on his website and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Qaradawi called on Muslims to rise up and defend Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque – Islam's third holiest shrine – against Israel. His comments come amid heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel closed the Temple Mount, where the mosque is located, to all worshippers Oct. 30 following an assassination attempt against an Israeli activist. Jewish radicals have recently demanded the right to pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque, built on the holiest site to Jews, something Israel has forbidden them to do. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the closure, calling it a "declaration of war." Israel reopened the site Oct. 31 amid heavy security. Tensions remain high, and incitement to violence has increased.
Qaradawi's article protests against Israel's planned archaeological tunnels under the Temple Mount and what he calls "attempts to Judaize the city of Jerusalem." He warns of attacks against Muslim and Christian holy sites.
"What is happening to Al-Aqsa at this time is a major disaster," Qaradawi wrote. "The [nation] of the Arabs and the [nation] of the Muslims may not keep silent about it.
"For the sake of Al-Aqsa mosque, blood will flow, and Muslims will expend lives and money, and sons."
His diatribe also calls on Muslim clerics to urge followers to defend Al-Aqsa, and for Muslim leaders and rulers to rally to the cause.
Qaradawi cited an infamous, apocalyptic hadith frequently invoked by Islamists telling Muslims to kill Jews.
"The Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) has informed us, when he said: "The Hour will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, with Muslims fighting them until the Jew hides behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees saying: 'Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah, this Jew behind me, come kill him.'"
He took a further step on Twitter on Thursday, saying: "All the [Muslim nation] is required to wage Jihad in the Way of God, as this is a command upon all the [Muslim nation] to their capacity and competence."
This position is not new for Qaradawi. In January 1998, the Associated Press quoted al-Qaradawi as writing, "There should be no dialogue with these people [Israelis] except with swords." And in April 2001, he described suicide bombings as follows, "They are not suicide operations…These are heroic martyrdom operations."